1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abbey, Edwin Austin

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For works with similar titles, see Edwin Austin Abbey.

ABBEY, EDWIN AUSTIN (1852–  ), American painter, was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 1st of April 1852. He left the schools of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts at the age of nineteen to enter the art department of the publishing house of Harper & Brothers in New York, where, in company with such men as Howard Pyle, Charles Stanley Reinhart, Joseph Pennell and Alfred Parsons, he became very successful as an illustrator. In 1878 he was sent by the Harpers to England to gather material for illustrations of the poems of Robert Herrick. These, published in 1882, attracted much attention, and were followed by illustrations for Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer (1887), for a volume of Old Songs (1889), and for the comedies (and a few of the tragedies) of Shakespeare. His water-colours and pastels were no less successful than the earlier illustrations in pen and ink. Abbey now became closely identified with the art life of England, and was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours in 1883. Among his water-colours are “The Evil Eye” (1877); “The Rose in October” (1879); “An Old Song” (1886); “The Visitors” (1890), and “The Jongleur” (1892). Possibly his best known pastels are “Beatrice,” “Phyllis,” and “Two Noble Kinsmen.” In 1890 he made his first appearance with an oil painting, “A May Day Morn,” at the Royal Academy in London. He exhibited “Richard duke of Gloucester and the Lady Anne” at the Royal Academy in 1896, and in that year was elected A.R.A., becoming a full R.A. in 1898. Apart from his other paintings, special mention must be made of the large frescoes entitled “The Quest of the Holy Grail,” in the Boston Public Library, on which he was occupied for some years; and in 1901 he was commissioned by King Edward VII. to paint a picture of the coronation, containing many portraits elaborately grouped. The dramatic subjects, and the brilliant colouring of his oil pictures, gave them pronounced individuality among the Works of contemporary painters. Abbey became a member not only of the Royal Academy, but also of the National Academy of Design of New York, and honorary member of the Royal Bavarian Society, the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts (Paris), the American Water-Colour Society, etc. He received first class gold medals at the International Art Exhibition of Vienna in 1898, at Philadelphia in 1898, at the Paris Exhibitions of 1889 and 1900, and at Berlin in 1903; and was made a chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.