Edwin Austin Abbey
American, 1852 - 1911
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Born in Philadelphia, where he attended evening classes at the Academy while working as an apprentice draughtsman for a local publisher. In 1870 he began a long association with the New York publishers, Harper's, who sent him to England in 1878 to research an illustrated edition of Herrick's poems. After two years in Europe he returned briefly to America, then finally settled in England, marrying in 1890 and establishing himself at Morgan Hall, Fairford, the following year. Having made his name with his illustrations and watercolours, exhibiting at the RI from 1883-87 and the RSW from 1893-96, he began to paint seriously in oils in 1889 and soon conquered the RA with such dramatic historical and literary works as 'Richard, Duke of York, and the Lady Anne' (Yale), the 'picture of the year' of 1896, and the magnificent 'Crusaders Sighting Jerusalem' (Yale) of 1891. Meanwhile in 1890, together with his friend John Sargent and Puvis de Chavannes, he was commissioned to paint murals in the new Public Library at Boston, exhibiting them in London in 1895 and 1901 to great acclaim. He was elected ARA in 1896 and RA two years later. Other projects of this period were the designs for Irving's (abandoned) production of 'Richard II' (1898), a mural of the Coronation of Edward VII (both completed 1904). The murals in the East Corridor of the Palace of Westminster were painted under his supervision 1908-10. His last years were devoted to a massive scheme of decoration for the state capitol at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (commissioned 1902). A relentless traveler, he exhibited internationally and was showered with honours in England, Europe and America. He suffered a physical breakdown in 1906 and was still only fifty-nine when he died.
A selection of art exhibitions which have featured this