“Fair Margaret, in her tidy kirtle, Led the lorn traveller up the path, Through clean-clipt rows of box and myrtle”
Book illustration: The Quiet Life, (Harper & Brothers) 1890; Chapter: “The Vicar” by Winthrop Mackworth Praed.
Pen & ink, 7 x 11.5" signed, dated 1886. Condition is very good: some marginal glue residue, not affecting the image; the frame is a simple black moulding with chips in the corners.
Literature: Henry Pitz, Pen, Brush and Ink, p. 48
The Quiet Life is nostalgic, celebrating the pre-industrial age, when English country living afforded people the leisure of relaxed, but learned and lively discussions, amid gardens and thatched-roofed houses. This is not a romantic scene at all, but a gracious old custom, in which strangers to a village were given guidance (in this case by “fair Margaret” who didn't have to worry for her safety) back to the main thoroughfare when they got lost.
In fact, Abbey lived such a life himself, in a 400-year old house in the hamlet of Broadway, in England, far from the rail lines and highways. He and friends John Singer Sargent, Alfred Parsons, and Henry James soaked in the atmosphere and reflected it in their delicate craftsmanship.
Exhibited: “Edwin Austin Abbey” Brandywine River Museum; “I'll Take Romance” Society of Illustrators, summer 1993.
Secondary photos include the handwritten caption on verso, and the pages of the book, on which appear the verse and the drawing.