by Scholes, Robert
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Edwin Austin Abbey (1852 - 1911)
He was born in Philadephia and educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He studied wood engraving and began work at Harper's magazine in New York in 1871. Sent by Harper's to England, he made his home there, working as an illustrator and painter of murals. He returned to the United States frequently and became a member of the Tile Club — a group of 31 notable New York painters, sculptors, and architects — including Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, J. Alden Weir, John Henry Twachtman, Ehilu Vedder, Edwin Austin Abbey, Arthur Burdett Frost, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Stanford White — who met together between 1877 and 1887. The club formed for purpose of camaraderie, painting on ceramic tiles and traveling together on group excursions and sketching trips. They banded together to promote, in America, issues and concepts about aesthetics and the fine and decorative arts that were prevalent within the British Aesthetic Movement. But the club also championed American art in general — and did much to popularize plein air painting and the Impressionist style. In the nineties he did a series of large scale illustrations of “The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail” for the walls of the Boston Public Library, where they still may be seen.