Born in Sheffield, England on May 21, 1838, Edwin Deakin came to America in 1856, settling in Chicago. Although not much is written of his academic background, he is said to be primarily a self-taught artist. Already well-known as an architectural painter in his native England, he began to achieve success in this country painting portraits of northern Civil War heroes.
In 1870 Deakin moved to San Francisco, where he became close friends and shared a studio with Samuel L. Brookes, the leading still life painter on the West Coast at the time. Deakin exhibited regularly with the San Francisco Art Association and at the Mechanics Institute Fairs, and was a member of the Bohemian Club. During the 1880s he lived in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Denver (where he was praised as the finest painter to have ever visited), and Salt Lake City, and had begun to paint much-admired still lifes of fruit and flowers. Deakin often painted different varieties of grapes set against architectural backdrops such as ruins and historic structures, combining his artistic beginnings as a painter of architecture to his newfound talent with still life painting. In addition to these studies, Deakin was known for his series of paintings of the missions of California as well as of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and other landscapes.
Deakin traveled and sketched in Europe between 1887 and 1890, exhibiting at the Paris Salon. Upon returning to America he settled in Berkeley, California, where he painted for the remainder of his life, and later a street was named for him there.
California Historical Society; De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; San Francisco Museum of Fine Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Society of California Pioneers; Sierra Nevada Museum, Reno