Edwin Austin Abbey Sketchbook Assignments

Edwin Austin Abbey was an American illustrator and muralist. Born here in Philadelphia, he moved to New York as a teenager (not that the term “teenager” was used in those days) and began doing illustration for Harper’s. When he was in his 20’s, Harper’s sent him to England to do research for an illustration project and he became a lifelong Anglophile, settling in London when he was 30.

He was one of the great pen and ink illustrators of the “Golden Age” of illustration. As his career progressed, he moved into painting and large scale murals. He was commissioned to do murals for the Boston Public Library, along with sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and painter John Singer Sargent, with whom he was friends, and created large scale works based on the quest for the Holy Grail. He also did murals and decorations for the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, which were finished by Sargent after Abbey’s death.

He was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and shared their fondness for subjects from English literature, particularly Shakespeare. He did a series of wonderful works based on scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, such as the scene from Hamlet, above.

I’ve been unable to find many reproductions of his murals on the web. There are somewhat better resources for his painted illustrations. One of the best sources for his pen and ink work is Paul Giambarba’s nicely illustrated article on 100 Years of Illustration and Design.

There is a page on the John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery that features some of Abbey’s work as well as Sargent’s charcoal portrait of him.

Abbey’s images were rich in detail, vibrant in color, full of intense contrasts of dark and light and populated by graceful figures and dramatic faces.

Link:Ciudad de la pintura
Art Renewal Center
Illustrated bio on BPIB
Bio on Butler Art
Artcyclopedia (links)

Edwin Austin Abbey Sketch

Edwin Austin Abbey Sketchbook Page 1885

Thought I’d share this lovely Edwin Austin Abbey sketchbook page from 1885. I bought this years ago from Walt Reed at the Illustration House in New York.

Edwin Austin Abbey (April 1, 1852 – August 1, 1911) was an American artist, illustrator, and painter. He flourished at the beginning of what is now referred to as the “golden age” of illustration, and is best known for his drawings and paintings of Shakespearean and Victorian subjects, as well as for his painting of Edward VII’s coronation.” His most famous work, The Quest of the Holy Grail, resides in the Boston Public Library.





Abbey working on Pen and Ink


Edwin Austin Abbey



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This entry was posted on February 9, 2013 by George Pratt. It was filed under News! .

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