Abbott Anderson Thayer - Brother and Sister - oil on canvas - 1889 - via Smithsonian American Art Museum
This work portrays Abbott Thayer’s children one year after their mother’s hospitalization for “melancholia,” or severe depression. Thayer wrote to a friend that her physical deterioration would not be so horrible “were her soul visible” (Anderson, 1982). Thayer captured the sadness and worry of this difficult period in Mary’s heavy-lidded, watery eyes and in Gerald’s searching expression. They look like a modern-day Madonna and Child.