DescriptionEDWIN AUSTIN ABBEY (American, 1852-1911)
Portrait of Alfred Parsons, R.A., 1886
Pen and ink on paper
11-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches (29.2 x 23.5 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: E.A. Abbey, July 27, 1886
THE JEAN AND GRAHAM DEVOE WILLIFORD CHARITABLE TRUST
J.P. Ballard, Reading Fine Art Gallery, Reading, England (label verso).
This sensitive pen and ink portrait drawing, with its wonderful variation of line, documents an important relationship between the artist and the sitter. The American Abbey and the British Parsons were good friends, and painters as well as professional illustrators (both men worked for Harper's magazine). Abbey moved to England permanently in 1878, where he enjoyed a lucrative career illustrating great works of English literature. He and Parsons shared an apartment in London where they also maintained studios next door to one another. Both men were part of the so-called "Broadway colony" of American and British artists and writers who summered in the picturesque town of Broadway in the Cotswolds some 80 miles northwest of London. There, a lively artistic society formed around the home of American painter Frank D. Millet, and included such luminaries as Henry James, John Singer Sargent (whose portrait of Abbey is in the collection at Yale), and Edmund Gosse. The tight-knit colony fostered numerous artistic collaborations. For example, Parsons partnered with Abbey on illustrations for a book of Robert Herrick's poetry (1882), supplied illustrations for Henry James essay on Broadway (Harper's, June to November 1889), and collaborated with Frank Millet on a Danube travel book (1893). As Abbey noted of Broadway: "We have music until the house won't stand it. Sargent is going elaborately through Wagner's trilogy, recitatives and all: there are moments when it doesn't seem as if it could be meant for music, but I dare say it is. I've been painting a head. Sargent does it better than I do and quicker, but then he's younger . . . . Miss Gertrude Griswold sings to us like an angel. . . . We really do have a gay summer, pretending to work and sometimes working (for there are numberless places with easels in them to hide away in -- if you really do want to work) -- until four and then tennis until dinner time, and after dinner, dancing and music and various cheering games in the studio, but mostly dancing." Apart from his work as an illustrator, Parson enjoyed success as a landscape and flower painter. He was also a fine watercolorist and painted prolifically on a trip to Japan.
French matted and framed under glass. No apparent flaws or damage (sight). Not examined out of frame which is backed by a wooden board. Pastedown on backing (art dealer) J.P. Ballard, Reading Fine Art Gallery (England) plus a second typed label adhered to backing board identifying sitter and artist. Framed Dimensions 19 X 16.5 Inches
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