Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) was an American Illustrator, muralist and painter. His work range from medieval and seventeenth century thematic, along with Shakespearean theatrical themes. He has been commissioned large scale murals in the Pennsylvania State Capitol and the Royal Exchange in London.
Abbey, began his career as an illustrator artist and many of his drawings appeared in many magazines such as the Harper’s Weekly, from an early age. He illustrated books of Charles Dickens, Oliver Goldsmith and Shakespearean Comedies, for which he is renowned. In 1878, he moved to London, where he stayed permanently, and was well accepted by his solemn character and imaginative spirit. He was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water – Colors in 1883, and received positive critical acclaims to his work. In 1898 he was a full member of the Royal Academy, and was chosen to paint the coronation of King Edward VII. His reputation grew in England, but also to his origin country where in both countries, he was invited to paint large scale murals, that took him years to complete. After his death, his wife Gertrude Mead, was active in preserving her husband’s legacy by writing about his work and by establishing the Incorporates Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Scholarships.
“The Young Woman in White by the Sea” is one of the notable works by the artist, celebrating youth, beauty and femininity. The young lady rests in a peaceful ambient in front of the freshness of the sea setting, sitting from over a century back the sparkle and brilliance of her youth in serenity. With an ease of employment and full-bodied technique the artists illustrates his figure with fierce yet calm brushstrokes, caressing his subject into appearance. It is of freehand and defiant painted manner that has employed into representing his figurine, and her pale white dress, of a romantic epoque of the nineteenth century era. The radiating in white figure with her halo hat and the padded flowers around her waist speaks of springtime and restlessness. Her opaque red scarf and transparent gloves add to this atmosphere of youth and romanticism, of expectation and longing for a future yet to come.
The woman sits against a stone bench, separating her form the beyond setting of the sea, which is painted in much dexterity, separating the blues on the horizon, from the blues that are in the front stage. The seemingly same colored sky is dealt with brushstrokes that move to different directions, as opposed to the horizontal brushstrokes of the sea.
Abbey is a painter of a moderate character and of a charismatic talent. His clearness and vividness of his vision along with his poetic perception of beauty account for a small scale painting, that encompasses his mastery of larger scale paintings, he was accustomed to. His understanding of illustrations has conceded in a constructive sketching of his thematic and a yielding atmosphere of tones and color. He has a wonderful grasp of the divine and mystery, of this that lays beyond our vision and perception, that results in compositions of hierarchical synthesis and highly regarded qualities.