Shopping for Furs


Polly (Ethel) Thayer (1904–2006)


about 1943


Oil on canvas


24 1/4 x 20 1/8 in. (61.6 x 51.1 cm) Frame: 30 3/4 x 26 3/4 in. (78.1 x 67.9 cm)


With several recent acquisitions of the artist’s work, the Athenæum’s collection now contains six paintings by Boston artist Polly Thayer. Five of these are portraits (including a self-portrait and a portrait of Thayer’s husband, Donald Starr) and one is a small landscape. As the first genre painting by Thayer to enter the collection, Shopping for Furs adds unexpected depth to the institution’s holdings of her work. Undoubtedly posed by a carefully selected model, the painting is a brilliant study in the numbing exhaustion brought on by the mundane, ultimately meaningless activity of shopping for luxury goods.

Credit Line

Athenæum purchase, 2010

Object Number