Born in Bath and brought up in London, Edwin Longsden Long became one of the most popular and commercially successful artists of his time. In the late 1850s he visited Spain with the artist John Phillip, who introduced him to his two great inspirations: the artists Murillo and Velasquez. The dark, hot mystical beauty of Spain struck at the heart of his artistic sensibilities, and he spent long hours in the Prado where he copied two paintings by Velasquez. He was a spiritual man, and the reoccurring themes of religious devotion and ritual that he discovered in Spain influenced his whole life's work.
On his death in 1891 his fortune stood at £120,000, which itself is a remarkable realisation of his talent. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1855, becoming an Associate in 1876 and a full Academician in 1881. His painting, The Babylonian Marriage Market received an ecstatic reception when it was shown at the Royal Academy in 1875, with even John Ruskin swelling the chorus of praise. It caused a further sensation in 1881 when Thomas Holloway bought it at Christie's for £6,615, a sale room record which was not to be broken for ten years.
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