852 RARE: The Weekly Special

This week, the Historical & Special Collections Department (“HSC”) is unveiling a new series of posts. “The Weekly Special” will highlight recent acquisitions, oddities, unburied treasures, beautiful things, and collections found in our department.

As a recent arrival to the Library and to HSC, I am – and  hope always will be – in awe of our vast collection of books, manuscripts, collections of papers, and art. Looking through our portrait collection for those featuring women as subjects, I was delighted to find this engaging portrait of Theodora W. Thayer tucked away in our art office.

Theodora Thayer (1868-1905) was the daughter of James Bradley Thayer (1831-1902), who joined the HLS faculty in 1874 and served until his death in 1902. During her brief life, Theodora gained fame as a painter of miniatures. She studied art in Boston and taught in New York, where she maintained a studio of her own. At least one of her miniatures can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This portrait of Theodora was painted by her cousin Edward E. Simmons in 1891, when Theodora was 23 years old. It is oil on canvas, about 20” high by 14” wide.

If you are as charmed by Theodora’s expressive face and serene expression as I am, I invite you to stop by Langdell 481 – my office – and see her for yourself.

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