Abbey Room Murals: The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail by Edwin Austin Abbey
Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) was a young, highly regarded illustrator for Harper's Monthly magazine, but had never completed any work in oil paint when he was approached for the mural commission. The Philadelphia-born artist lived most of his life in England, where he befriended artist John Singer Sargent. In 1890, Abbey and Sargent dined with Charles Follen McKim, Stanford White, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens in New York, where architect McKim convinced him to consider painting a mural cycle in the Boston Public Library's Book Delivery Room. Upon visiting the library during its construction with McKim, Abbey agreed to undertake the project and signed a contract to complete the work for $15,000 in 1893. He selected a subject of "legendary romance" in The Quest for the Holy Grail, basing his work upon Alfred, Lord Tennyson's version of the Arthurian tale.

The photography of these items has been made possible through the generous support of the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

For more information please contact:
Exhibitions and Programming Department
McKim Building
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
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