Abbey, Edwin Austin:
American Golden Age Illustrator and Muralist, 1852-1911
American painter and illustrator, active in England. He began his artistic training in 1866, studying drawing with the Philadelphia portrait and landscape painter Isaac L. Williams (1817-95). In 1868 he attended evening classes in drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Christian Schussele (1824-79). In the same year Abbey began to work as an illustrator for the Philadelphia publishers Van Ingen & Snyder. In 1870 Harper's Weekly published the Puritans' First Thanksgiving, and in 1871 Abbey moved to New York to join the staff of Harper & Brothers, thus inaugurating his most important professional relationship. Throughout the 1870s Abbey's reputation grew, both for his detailed exhibition watercolours and for his elegant line drawings, which, translated to wood-engravings in numerous periodicals, illustrated both factual and fictional events of the past and present. The influences on him were mainly English, in particular the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and illustrations in the English press, which he studied avidly. The success of his illustrations to some of Robert Herrick's poems, such as Corinna's Going A-Maying in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (May 1874), prompted Harper & Brothers in 1878 to send Abbey to England to do a complete series of drawings for an illustrated gift-book, Selections from the Poetry of Robert Herrick (New York, 1882).
The Play Scene in Hamlet
1897, oil on canvas, Yale University Art Gallery.