Edwin Austin Abbey (American, 1911)

Edwin Austin Abbey (American, 1852–1911) was an artist, illustrator, and painter who focused on literary and historical themes. Abbey studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and apprenticed as a draughtsman for a local publisher. He began working as an illustrator before the age of 20, receiving commissions from Harper’s Weekly and Scribner’s Magazine. In 1871, he moved to New York, NY, to join the Harper’s Weekly staff. In addition to magazine work, Abbey illustrated best-selling books such as Charles Dickens’s Christmas Stories, She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith and The Comedies of Shakespeare. In 1878, Harper’s sent Abbey to England to conduct research forSelections from the Poetry of Robert Herrick. In 1880, he settled in London to study Historical Painting, and he was made a full member of the Royal Academy in 1898. Abbey was selected to paint the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and was invited to be a court painter, which he declined in order to keep his United States citizenship. Abby befriended other American expatriates at the artist colony of Broadway. Abbey eventually set up studio with John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925) in Morgan Hall, where Abbey continued his illustration and painted theatrical and literary themed works, all the while taking on ambitious public painting commissions. The Quest for the Holy Grail, one such commission, was a series of murals for the Boston Public Library which took Abbey 11 years to complete. Abbey died in 1911 while working on a commission for the State Capitol of Pennsylvania.

Timeline

1852
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1852
Born in London, England
1870
Moved to New york to seek work as an illustrator
1875
Helped to found the Tile Club along with five other young artists
1870–1878
Worked for Harper & Brothers in New York
1878
Harper & Brothers sent Abbey to England
1890
Married Mary Gertrude Mead
1901
Elected an associate of the National Academy of Design, New York
1902
King Edward VII made Abbey official court painter of the King's coronation
1904
Elected president of the Bath Society of Artists
1905
Elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
1911
Died

Exhibitions

1900
Exhibited his "Hamlet" in the American Section at the Exposition Universelle in Paris
1874
First exhibition - American Water Color Society