Hidden Talents

Following some links related to the Dazzle Ships post from last week, I came across an interesting piece from Cabinet Magazine on Abbott Handerson Thayer, an artist I always associated with a sort of Maxfield Parrish-lite oeuvre, especially all his cloud-filled portraits of angels and women. Hidden Talents by Emily Gephart showed me another facet of this artist.

Turns out Thayer was quite the amateur naturalist as well, and became a vociferous proponent of Darwinism and natural selection. The main thrust of his later work was devoted to exploring animal coloration and camouflage. In 1909 he released Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, a book full of remarkable images of animal disguise. It includes this amazing image, Peacock in the Woods:

Peacock in the Woods
Though Thayer’s hardheaded adherence to camouflage as the driving force in all animal coloration led to his ideas falling from grace, his study of disguise and coloration in contrasting disruptive or ‘dazzle’ patterns was adopted by the US military in World War I to camouflage warships.