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.