Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) [H NRA 1884-1911] : Sunday morning in “Old Virginia”, 1879.



SAL record control number: 85839 ;

Record level: Item ;

Record type: Movable work ;


Work title: Sunday morning in Old Virginia  [from collection list] ;

Alternate work titles:
2021 : Sunday morning in Old Virginia  [from collection list] ;
1989 : Woman descending stairs [from collection list] ;

Work date: 1879 [from collection database] ;

Work creator: Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911) ;

Work medium: Watercolor and gouache on paper ;
Work dimensions: 15 x 11-3/4 inches ;

Inscribed / signed front:
Location: Signed at lower left.
Dated: Yes.
Text: ‘E. A. Abbey / 1879’

Verso: [none] ;

SAL category: Works on paper ;
SAL sub-category: Watercolor / gouache ;

Archives of American Art subjects:
Architecture interior
Architecture interior — Domestic
Architecture interior — Domestic — House
Art―Private collections―New York (State)
Art―Private collections―New York (State)―Salmagundi
Figure female
Figure female — Full length

Description of work:
An American artist, E. A. Abbey, has in this picture shown us a domestic scene in the life of the old-fashioned planter class of the Southern States, whose manners and habits remain, in some particulars, very little altered from what they were in the last century, notwithstanding the Revolution, the Federal Republic, the Secession War, and Slave Emancipation. The old gentleman, after breakfast on the Sunday morning, is getting himself ready to go to church, attired in buckled shoes and gaiters, knee-breeches and buttoned-up coat, with a thick white neckcloth; while his faithful colored servant, the mulatto Joseph, is helping him on with the overcoat, and his broad-brimmed white hat, with its respectable black band, lies on the hall table. He has lately married a young wife, who comes lightly and leisurely down stairs, apparently half-inclined to excuse herself, and to tell him, after all, that she “calculates she will not go out this morning;” But she has put on a smart little hat, though otherwise dressed with an easy negligence that scarcely promises more than a stroll to the garden gate. This lady has an air of complacency, which may, perhaps, have arisen from the consciousness of always having her own way, but which does not infallibly betoken a sweet temper or resigned disposition. The face of the worthy Squire, as a country gentleman of his class would be called in Old England, is highly characteristic; it is expressive of a life-long patient attention to the routine business of his estate and neighborhood, with a certain slow shrewdness, and a large share of conscientiousness, which often accompany the care of agricultural property. We do not believe that he was a cruel master in the days of slavery; and he finds willing laborer’s at the fair wages he will pay in these days of an open market for field-hands of the African race.  Accompanied by a full page wood engraving by Joseph Swain (1820-1909), one of the most important nineteenth-century engravers in England. His works appeared in Punch, Cornhill Magazine, Good Words and The Illustrated London News.


Exhibition history:
2010 SCNY black and white through the years 1871-present, January 25 – February 22.
2007 SAL Library artists of the black & white exhibition of the Salmagundi Sketch Club (1878-1887), April 1 – May 19.
1878 SCNY first exhibition of original black and white drawings sketches and etchings May 23-24.

References / citations:
– Framed.
– Label attached.
– 2006 collection list, accession #2006.33.
– 1989 collection list, accession #WC-4.
The Illustrated London News, London, England, Sunday morning in “Old Virginia” [engraving], June 4, 1881, volume LXXVIII, page 547, illustrated : b&w.



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Record birth date:
March 31, 2021

Last updated: October 18, 2021 at 13:50 pm