September 13, 2017
Robert Walter Weir, Sylvanus Thayer (Military Officer), 1834, oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 25 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahori M. Young Estate.
This portrait represents Sylvanus Thayer, the “Father” of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Thomas Jefferson founded the academy in 1802 to help maintain a national army. In 1817, thirty-two-year-old Thayer was named superintendent. He established academic rigor and founded the engineering program, making West Point a focus of national pride. Weir was the drawing instructor at West Point when he painted this piece. It is likely a study for the full-length portrait of Thayer in the cadet dining hall.
This piece is currently on display at the MOA in the exhibition Shaping America.