With Joseph Crawhall, Edwin Alexander was one of the finest painters of birds and animals of the time. Edwin was the son of Robert Alexander, an Edinburgh-based artist well-known for his paintings of animals. In 1887-88 father and son visited Tangier with Pollock Nisbet and Joseph Crawhall. Edwin Alexander studied art briefly in the early 1890s at the Royal Scottish Academy Schools and in Paris.
From 1892 he was in the Arab World again. He settled on the Nile, where he learnt Arabic and preferred to paint the desert and its grasses rather than familiar views of Egypt. In 1904 Edwin Alexander married and moved to Edinburgh. From then on his subject matter was mostly birds and animals, painted in watercolour, often on sugar-paper, linen or cardboard.