Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Abbey's Studies for the Coronation

In 1901, American expatriate Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) received a commission to paint the coronation of King Edward VII at Westminster Hall.

Edwin Austin Abbey,  The Coronation of King Edward VII (1841-1910) c. 1902-7
Oil on canvas | 275.0 x 458.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)
John S. Sargent was offered the job but felt unequal to the task and declined, so the commission passed to his friend EA Abbey.

Edwin Austin Abbey: The Coronation of Edward VII,
study of Queen Alexandra's Dress, c.1902.
Abbey did a wealth of studies for the commission, including oil studies of Queen Alexandra's dress....

Study of Westminster Abbey and the Coronation Chair,
for The Coronation of King Edward VII
...and studies inside Westminster Abbey to understand the light and color of the space where the event took place.

According to the Royal Collections Trust:
"During preparations and rehearsals in Westminster Abbey the artist had been able to prepare sketches and fill in positions of the main participants of the ceremony. Later he reported: ‘it was fortunate I had been able to sketch at the rehearsals or I should have been in a great muddle’. However, due to the King’s ill-health the coronation had to be postponed and was re-scheduled for 9 August 1902. The artist’s viewpoint was a specially built box in the tomb of Edmund Lancaster in the north transept. Unfortunately, it was a dull day and Westminster Abbey appeared more than usually gloomy and dark."

Detail of E.A. Abbey's  Coronation of King Edward VII
"But despite this Abbey was profoundly impressed with what he saw: ‘It was a sight indeed. They had white satin dresses and long trains of crimson velvet and ermine capes – trains and their coronets in hands. They came by twos or threes and dozens, and were marvellous to behold. I never saw so many jewels in my life.’"
Read more online at the Royal Collections Trust

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