Polly experienced a breakthrough in her understanding of form and space while training with Harry Wickey at the Art Students League in New York. This new understanding can be seen fully incorporated in her painting of one of the most famous bridges in Paris, Pont Alexandre III. While visiting the city again in the summer of 1964, this time with her husband and two teenaged daughters, the family stayed aboard a yacht navigating the Seine, an arrangement that allowed Thayer to explore the historic monuments from a different perspective. After completing several sketches from her chosen spot along the quai below the bridge where she “wanted to speak about spaces…it was a place of peace, a place for working things out,” Thayer’s finished painting reflects an extraction of the design elements of the scene, such as the play of light and shadow on the structure, the balance of curved and flat geometry and the interaction between the massive, sweeping architecture and the small human forms along the balustrade.
 As quoted by Dorothy Koval in her essay for Centennial Exhibition, Polly Thayer Starr: A Celebration of the Artist’s 100th Birthday, Vose Galleries exhibition catalogue, 2004.
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Polly Thayer entered the Museum School at age nineteen under Philip Hale and Leslie Prince Thompson. After 18 months she left the school to take private lessons with Hale, but her strong desire to learn more led her to Provincetown, where she continued her studies with Charles Hawthorne. Thayer further broadened her education by spending several years abroad, with time spent in Paris at the Académie Colarossi, visits to Morocco, and Madrid, and ending back in Paris, where she trained briefly under the cubist artist André Lhote.
Upon returning to the States, Thayer joined several other graduates from the Museum School, including Gertrude Fiske, who sought to expand the tastes of Boston collectors by introducing new methods of painting into their work. Thayer’s first solo show at Doll & Richards Gallery was successful and resulted in numerous portrait commissions. In 1932 she rented a studio at the Fenway Studios building in Boston, where she established herself as a portrait artist.
Estate of the artist, Boston, Massachusetts
Illustrated on page 4 of the Vose Galleries 2004 exhibition catalogue
Centennial Exhibition, Polly Thayer Starr: A Celebration of the Artist’s 100th Birthday, Vose Galleries, Boston, November 2 – December 31, 2004