The pupil, friend, and patron of Francis Towne, Abbott was a talented amateur artist who practiced as a surgeon and apothecary in his home city of Exeter in Devon. Although many of his landscapes, a genre in which he specialized, are views made in and around Exeter, he did undertake one important sketching tour to Scotland and the Lake District in 1791. He also made copies of Towne's Italian views, and after the Old Masters. Several times between 1793 and 1812 Abbott exhibited his watercolors at the Royal Academy, but never sold a picture at any point in his career. In 1825 he inherited an estate near Exeter, to which he retired, briefly serving as the county's Lord Lieutenant in the following decade. (Wilton/Lyles 1993, p.312)
The Great Age of British Watercolors 1750-1880. Exh. cat. NGA, 1993.