Edwin Austin Abbey
Born in Philadelphia, he attended evening classes at the Academy under Isaac
Williams while working as an apprentice draughtsman for a local publisher. In 1870, he
moved to New York and began a long association with the New York publisher,
Harper’s and Brothers. Harper's sent him to England in 1878 to research an illustrated edition of Herrick’s poems.
Making annual pilgrimages to England and the continent, he settled in England in
1882, marrying in 1890 and establishing himself at Morgan Hall, Fairford, the following year.
During these years, he 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.
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 - ,The Quest of the Holy Grail featured here on my site; exhibiting them in London in 1895 and 1901 to great acclaim.
He was elected ARA in 1896 and RA two years later. Other projects
during this period were the designs for Irving’s production of ‘Richard II’
(1898 -abandoned) and a mural of the Coronation of Edward VII completed 1904. He suffered a physical breakdown in 1906.
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. A relentless traveler, he exhibited internationally and was showered with
honors in England, Europe and America. He was only fifty-nine when he died.
The year after Connecticut Yankee came
out, Edwin Austin Abbey, another American expatriate painter, was commissioned to create a
15 panel mural for the Book Delivery Room at the new Boston Public Library. The subject he chose
was "The Quest for the Holy Grail."
1: "The Vision"
2: "The Oath of Knighthood"
3: "The Round Table"
4: "The Departure"
5: "Castle of the Grail"
6: "The Loathely Damsel"
7: "Conquest of the 7 Deadly Sins"
8: "Key to the Castle"
9: "Castle of the Maidens"
10: "Galahad Parts From His Bride: Blanchefleur"
11: "Death of Amfortas"
12: "Galahad the Deliverer"
13: "Voyage to Sarras"
14: "The City of Sarras"
15: "Golden Tree & The Achievement of the Grail"