Biography: Elihu Vedder was an American painter, book illustrator, and poet, best known for his 55 illustrations for Edward Fitzgerald's 1884 translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Vedder was born in New York City and trained there with Tompkins H. Matteson, before traveling to Paris to study with Francois-Édouard Picot. He moved on to Italy where he was influenced by Italian Renaissance art and the contemporary Macchiaioli landscape painters. During the American Civil War, Vedder returned to New York, working as a commercial illustrator and spending time with the artists and writers who frequented Pfaff's beer cellar in Greenwich Village. He befriended Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and William Morris Hunt. He returned to Italy after the Civil War and traveled frequently to England, where he was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites.