The Adam and Eve Inn, Chelsea, result 1 of 1
Edwin Edwards was born in Framlingham, Suffolk, in 1823 the son of a Norfolk squire. He trained as a lawyer and held the legal post of the King's Proctor and Examiner of the Courts of Civil Law and the High Court of Admirality courts until 1861, when at the age of 38 he retired from the profession and devoted himself to art.
Edwards was inspired to become an etcher by the French artist Henri Fantin-Latour, whom he first met in Paris in 1861. Fantin-Latour made a return visit to Edwards at his Sunbury-on-Thames home and legend has it Edwards decided to become an artist that instant. Edwards went on to become a successful landscape painter and etcher, based in Sunbury and London. His subjects were mainly views in the south of England, especially Devon and Cornwall. He was well connected within European artistic circles, befriending and being encouraged in particular by Alphonse Legros and James McNeill Whistler, the latter also sharing a passion for vocal music. In 1861 Edwards made an etching trip along the Thames with Whistler, Fantin-Latour and Francis Seymour Haden, during which he executed a portrait of Whistler sketching, seated, at Moulsey lock.
In a letter of 1874 Fantin-Latour described a projected double portrait which would depict Edwards sitting working at his etching table with his wife at his side 'like a guardian angel'. By February 1875 the couple were in Paris for the sittings. In the final painting, the artist produced a modified version of his first idea. Edwards sits at an angle, seemingly unaware of the spectator, while his wife faces the viewer with an uncompromising stare. The portrait was exhibited at the Salon of 1875, where it received a second-class medal. It was donated to the Tate Gallery by Mrs Edwards in 1904 and is currently on loan to the National Gallery, London.
A French art critic wrote in an obituary: "Edwin Edwards will live on in posterity, not only by his works, but also by his friendships. One remembers the splendid painting by Mr. Fantin-Latour depicting Edwards and his wife".
Edwards etched the print we see here, The Adam and Eve Inn, Old Chelsea, several years before Whistler (1878) and exhibited an impression at the Royal Academy in 1872 (cat. no. 1298). It focusses on the picturesque pub, with barges on the river in front. It was published posthumously by his widow in the 'Third Part' of his Old Inns in 1881.
University of Glasgow, James McNeill Whistler, A Catalogue Raisonné, http://etchings.arts.gla.ac.uk/catalogue/search/ts_display/?catno=K175&q=adam
Wikipedia, 'Edwin Edwards (artist)', https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Edwards_(artist)
Dr Mark Stocker Curator, Historical International Art April 2018
Now viewing The Adam and Eve Inn, Chelsea