Abbott Handerson Thayer
As an art colony, Dublin, New Hampshire, developed after the town of Dublin was firmly established as a summer destination. Although there were artists summering and working in the area before him, portrait painter Abbott Handerson Thayer, familiar with the area from his boyhood in Keene, came to Dublin in 1888 and started what is generally thought to be the Dublin art colony. Thayer had originally been brought to the area by Mary Amory Greene, a wealthy patron of the arts. Thayer had an established reputation as a portrait painter and a wide network of friends in the art world. It was through him that George de Forest Brush and Frank Benson came to summer in Dublin, while Barry Faulkner, Alexander James, Rockwell Kent, and Richard Meryman, came specifically to Dublin to study with him.
Artists chose Dublin as a destination for the beauty and ruggedness of the Monadnock Region. Its location, at the base of the mountain, provided inspiration for all of its visitors.
Though both Cornish and Dublin colonies attracted numerous artists to their locations, neither developed art associations, galleries, exhibition buildings, or summer art schools as some other colonies did. A friendly rivalry existed between the two, with frequent discussion of the visual distinction between the two colonies. Dublin cultivated the rustic, while Cornish cultivated a slightly more formal setting with ornate gardens. Each had its own mountain as inspiration, Ascutney at Cornish and Monadnock at Dublin.
Dublin Colony Artists
Abbott Handerson Thayer painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits. He was best known for his ethereal angels and depictions of idealized young women often with Mount Monadnock in the background.
Thayer spent a decade painting in the Hudson River Valley in the late 19th century. Each summer he came to Dublin, New Hampshire where he became a leading figure in the town’s thriving artist colony. In 1901, he settled permanently in Dublin, at the foot of Mount Monadnock. Thayer was fascinated by every detail of the mountain and during his later years he devoted his time to painting Monadnock in the different seasons. Mount Monadnock in Winter, (1913) is an example of this work and his fascination with the mountain as an artistic subject. In order to protect his beloved mountain, Thayer played an active role in preserving Mount Monadnock as a state park.
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) is well known for his early images of the Maine coast and other New England locations. He was one of America’s most popular artists and illustrators during the decades between the World Wars. Kent spent time in Dublin, New Hampshire, at the studio of his mentor, Abbott Thayer, where, early in his career, Kent found buyers for his work. He developed a bold painting and drafting style characterized by clear definitions of form through strong outlines and contrasts of light and dark. Collectors sought his work, and he was praised for his powerful illustrations commissioned for editions of Voltaire’s Candide and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
Kent traveled extensively to remote locations – Newfoundland, Alaska, Tierra del Fuego and Greenland. Executed in the years following Kent’s trip to Alaska, Adam II was one of a series of images published in Kent’s book, Rockwellkentiana (1933). The book included art works and autobiographical notes by the artist. This watercolor depicts a reclining figure in an expansive landscape, a familiar theme in his work. The painting reflects the mysticism of William Blake, an artist who, like Kent, was fascinated with mythical accounts of genesis. Reclining in an indeterminate landscape of flat plains and pyramidal mountains, a heroic male nude extends his arm heavenward into a shaft of seemingly divine light. A halo appears above his head, reinforcing the otherworldly character of the scene. In describing the painting in 1966, Kent wrote, “ I won’t attempt to rationalize the figure’s gesture farther than to say that, being characteristic of many figures I depicted at that period…it is unconsciously symbolic of myself…I will explain the picture only as having ‘significant gesture.’ “