Elegant pen work of Edwin Austin Abbey

Edwin Austin Abbey submitted pen and ink drawings to Harper & Brothers for two years before they bought one. That lead to 18 year-old Abbey joining Harper’s art department to work on Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s The Monthly Magazine.

Abbey quickly established himself as a masterful pen and ink artist. He soon left Harper’s to become a freelancer but continued to take assignments from them, grateful for the opportunity they gave him.

A trip to England turned Abbey into a proud anglophile. And when he married, he and his bride moved to England permanently. During this period Abbey changed his medium from pen and ink to oil. He was hugely successful as a painter and muralist on both sides of the Atlantic. His work was detailed and lush and includes a portrait of King Edward II’s 1902 coronation that now hangs in Buckingham Palace, and his series of murals,The Quest for the Holy Grail, for the Boston Public Library.

Interest in Abbey’s oils and murals have obscured attention to his exquisite pen and ink drawings. Here is a small sampling of this early work.

Harpers Magazine 1887

Pen and ink by Edwin Abbey. Sally looking out from a doorway. 1883.

Harpers Magazine 1883

Tony. "No Offense; But question for questions is all fair, you know." - She Stoops to Conquer, Act 1., Scene 2. Drawing from E.A. Abbey.

Harpers Magazine 1883

May I a small house and large garden have; and a few friends and ... a mistress moderately fair. 1887.

Harpers Magazine 1887

The Day of Rest by Edwin Austin Abbey. Published in Harpers Magazine 1884.

Harpers Magazine 1884

Harpers Magazine 1883

Harpers Magazine 1886

As some fair female, adorn''d and plain, Secure to please while youth confirms her reign. Drawn by Edwin Abbey. Harper Magazine 1902

Harpers Magazine 1902

Check out more on Edwin A. Abbey at Monroe Street Books.


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