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Matthew Wilson - Portrait of William Thayer

Matthew Wilson (1814-1892), British-American
Portrait of William W. Thayer, 1875
OIL ON CANVAS, 26 x 22 inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks

William Thayer was the Athenaeum’s first librarian as well as one of its first trustees. That Fairbanks com­missioned New York portraitist Matthew Wilson to depict his colleague suggests that he was pleased with his own grand portrait (now in the Fiction Room), painted two years earlier. Thayer's portrait is far less elab­orate than Fairbanks', but nevertheless conveys a sense of the sitter's dignified demeanor. Under Thayer's guidance, the Athenaeum library's early years were enormously successful, fulfilling Fairbanks' hope that the institution would become an integral part of life in the St. Johnsbury.