Salomon van Abbé

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Salomon van Abbé
Born 31 July 1883
Died 28 February 1955

Salomon van Abbé (born Amsterdam, 31 July 1883, died London, 28 February 1955), also known as Jack van Abbé or Jack Abbey, was an artist, etcher and illustrator of books and magazines.

He was born in the Netherlands but moved with his family to England when he was 5 years old and became a naturalised citizen. He added the accent to become van Abbé. He studied at London County Council Schools, the People’s Palace, Toynbee Hall, Central School of Art and at the LCC School of Photoengraving and Lithography at Bolt Court where he met Edmund Blampied, Robert Charles Peter and John Nicolson, all fellow etchers.

He was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers (A.R.E) in 1923 [1] and was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists (R.B.A.). He was a President of the London Sketch Club, a member of the Art Workers Guild and was awarded a bronze medal at the Paris Salon in 1939.[2]

Salomon van Abbé was noted for his drypoints of the legal profession and the law. He signed much of his commercial work as an illustrator “Abbey” or “S. Abbey”, to distinguish himself from his brother Joseph van Abbé (b 1889, d 1954), who signed himself “J. Abbey”. In the 1911 Census in the United Kingdom the van Abbé family gave their surname as 'Abbey'. Salomon van Abbé also used the pseudonym ‘C. Morse’ because of problems with publishers.[3] Much of his commercial work was to design the dust jackets for books, and he worked for publishers such as Ward Lock & Co, Collins, Thomas Nelson, Thornton Butterworth, Methuen, John Murray, Skeffingtons, Hamish Hamilton, Nash and Grayson and Herbert Jenkins. Because his work for publishers was so prolific he designed the dust jackets of many notable books published in the 1920s and ‘30s, including the first "Saint" book by Leslie Charteris called Meet the Tiger (Ward Lock, 1928), The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (Collins, 1928) and the first two novels by Dorothy L. Sayers published by T. Fisher Unwin. In the 1950s he illustrated children’s books for Dent including Treasure Island, Tanglewood Tales, Little Women and Good Wives.

Salomon van Abbé married Hannah Wolff (b 1892, d 1973) on 3 August 1914 at Stoke Newington in London, and they had two sons, Derek (b 1917, d 1982) and Norman (b 1921, d 2003). He was brother-in-law to the Jersey artist Edmund Blampied who married his sister, Marianne (b 1887, d 1986).

van Abbé has paintings in National collections in the United Kingdom.[4]


  1. Hopkinson, M (1999). No day without a line. A history of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers 1880 - 1999. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum.
  2. Who's Who in Art (1958), Ninth edition. London: The Art Trade press.
  3. Bender, J.H. (1939). The drypoints of S. Van Abbé. Print Collector’s Quarterly 26 (3): 292 – 309.
  4. Salomon van Abbé, YourPaintings, BBC, accessed 28 January 013

Notable books illustrated by Salomon van Abbé

All published in the UK unless otherwise noted.