Edward Lear, Premeti, Albania (1858)

Edward Lear, Premeti, Albania.
Inscribed ‘Premeti’ (in Greek) and dated ’17. April. 1857.’ (lower left) and extensively inscribed with color notes. Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolor. 11 7/8 x 20 ½ in. (30.5 x 51 cm).

In 1857 Lear was living and working on the Greek island of Crete. In April he undertook a journey to the mainland, spending three weeks exploring northern Greece and southern Albania. He spent three days following the River Viosje from Konitsa to Tepelene, reaching Premeti, or Përmet, just over the Albanian border on 17 April. Lear wrote to his sister Ann on 23 April: ‘The walk of the 17th by the side of the Viosa was magnificent…’, and he made several drawings of the area.
In the mid-19th Century Albania was a territory relatively unexplored by Englishmen, and Lear found it provided a wealth of subject matter: ‘You have that which is found neither in Greece nor in Italy, a profusion everywhere of the most magnificent foliage recalling the greenness of our own island…You have majestic cliff-girt shores; castle-crowned heights, and gloomy forests; palaces glittering with gilding and paint; mountain passes such as you encounter in the snowy regions in Switzerland…and with all this a crowded variety of costume and pictorial incident such as bewilders and delights an artist at each step he takes’ (V. Noakes, The Painter Edward Lear, London, 1991, p. 52). The present drawing depicts the famous stone of the city, and the arched bridge across the river which has now been demolished.

Christie’s.

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Edward Lear, Parnassus (1856)

Edward Lear, Parnassus, Greece.
Signed, inscribed and dated ‘Parnassus/ Edward Lear del./ 1856.’ (lower right). Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour, heightened with white on duck-egg blue paper. 12 ½ x 20 in. (31.8 x 50.8 cm.)

Provenance
Charles Church, a gift from the artist, and by descent to the present owners.

Exhibited
Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Edward Lear, Drawings from a Greek Tour, July 1964, no. 46.

Christie’s.

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Edward Lear, Kythira (1863)

Edward Lear, The Island of Cerigo (Kythira), Greece.
Inscribed and dated ’23 May 1.10-1.45pm 1863′ and numbered ‘198’, pen, ink and watercolour with annotations, 32 x 48.5cm.

With Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd.

The Saleroom.

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Edward Lear, More Views in Ireland (1835)

Edward Lear, Two views of towers at Clondalkin Tower, Co. Dublin; one of Glendalough tower, Co. Wicklow; and The Banqueting-room in the Demesne of Bellevue, with a view of Wicklow Head.
The fourth signed and inscribed ‘Wicklow Head/ ELear’ (lower centre and left). Pencil, heightened with white, on grey paper. 4 ¼ x 6 ½ in. (10.8 x 16 ½ cm.); and smaller (4).

Provenance
i and iii) Mary F. Shaw.
with Agnew’s, London, 1989.
ii) Mary F. Shaw.
with Agnew’s, London, 1989, where purchased by
Vivien Noakes.
iv) Robert A. Hornby.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, 18 March 1982, lot 9 (part).

Exhibited
Grasmere, The Wordsworth Museum, Lear the Landscape Artist: tours of Ireland and the English Lakes 1835 and 1836, 2nd July – 4th October 2009, no’s 18, 19, 24 and 25.
iv) London, Royal Academy, Edward Lear 1812-1888, 1985, no. 13d.

Clondalkin tower may be identified by its expanded base, the only one of its kind in Ireland, and the only such tower to have a ‘cap’ in the 19th Century. Standing to the West of Dublin, it is not on the way to Wicklow, and would have been a day trip from the city. The tower at Glendalough has no cap, and is part of a monastery dating from the time of St Kevin in the 6th Century. Although it has been defunct as a monastery since the 14th Century, it remains a popular site of pilgrimage, as well as a tourist site. It seems likely that Lear made further drawings of the site which are not known to have survived.
Stanley recorded that after visiting Glendalough, the group stayed at Bellevue, the country house of the Dublin banking family the La Touches near Bray. The Banqueting-Room was a rustic masonry building in the grounds, built in a Gothic style, with views across the estate to Wicklow Head.

Christie’s.

See previous post.

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Edward Lear, Five Views in County Wicklow (1835)

Edward Lear, Five views in County Wicklow: The Great and Little Sugarloafs; The Great and Little Sugarloafs, from The Scalp; Figures beside trees, probably in the Powerscourt Demesne; Loch Tay looking north; and Bray, with the Little Sugarloaf in the distance.
The first signed and inscribed ‘Sugar Loaf/ ELear’ (lower centre and left). Pencil, some heightened with white, on grey paper. 4 ¼ x 6 ½ in. (10.8 x 16 ½ cm.); and smaller (5).

Provenance
i) Robert A. Hornby.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London 18 March 1982, lot 9 (part).
ii, iii, iv and v) Mary F. Shaw.
with Agnew’s, London, 1989, where purchased by
Vivien Noakes.
iv) Mary F. Shaw.
with Agnew’s, London, 1989

Exhibited
Grasmere, The Wordsworth Museum, Lear the Landscape Artist: tours of Ireland and the English Lakes 1835 and 1836, 2nd July – 4th October 2009, no’s 20, 21, 22, 23 and 26.

Lear went to Ireland in 1835 with his friend Arthur Stanley (later Dean of Westminster), as well as Stanley’s brother, father and uncle, for the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) in Dublin from 10 to 15 August. When the meeting finished, part of the group set off to walk through Wicklow, and Lear made a sketchbook of drawings, of which this and the following lot are the largest group known to remain. Arthur Stanley’s diaries were later published, and give some idea of how the journey might have looked.
The first three of these drawings were probably taken in or near Lord Powerscourt’s deerpark. The view of Loch Tay shows the rocky scarp of Luggala on the left. The view of Bray is an important record of the appearance of the town before the arrival of the railway in 1854. Taken from outside the Market House on market day, it must date from either Saturday 22 or Tuesday 25 August, on Lear’s return journey to Dublin.

Christie’s.

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Edward Lear, Honister Crag, Lake District (1836)

Edward Lear, Honister Crag, Lake District.
Signed and inscribed ‘E./ Honister. Cu’ (lower right). Pencil heightened with white on grey paper. 4 ¼ x 6 7/8 in. (10.8 x 17.5 cm.), corners cut.

Literature
C. Nugent, Edward Lear The Landscape Artist: Tours of Ireland and the English Lakes, 1835 & 1836, Grasmere, 2009, p. 158, fig. 43.

Lear made a walking tour of the Lake District in 1836, from which this drawing dates. Lear loved the landscape and wrote enthusiastically to John Gould (31 October 1836) ‘I left Knowsley…on the 12th August for a sketching tour, & really it is impossible to tell you how, and how enormously I have enjoyed the whole Autumn. The counties of Cumberland & Westmorland are superb indeed, & tho the weather has been miserable, yet I have contrived to walk pretty well over the whole ground & to sketch a good deal besides’. Many years later in 1884, Lear recalled of his trip ‘…I know every corner of Westmorland; Scawfell Pikes is my cousin, and Skiddaw is my mother in law’. Honister Crag is on the road which cuts between Buttermere and Borrowdale, and Lear dated another drawing from the same viewpoint 10 October.
A group of drawings from this tour was sold in these Rooms, 20 November 2003, lot 77, and are now at Dove Cottage, Grasmere.

Christie’s.

This Sale, Old Master and British Drawings and Watercolours Including Works from the Collection of Jean Bonna (London, 2 July 2019), has several Lears worth seeing. If you can’t wait for me to post them here you should download the PDF catalogue, that contains more pictures than those that appear online.

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Edward Lear, The Monastery of Stavronikita, Mount Athos (1856)

Of the picture below, Stephen Duckworth, who kindly informed me of this sale of several Lear paintings, writes:

This fine view of Stavroniketes monastery on the Mount Athos peninsula was drawn by Lear early on his journey round the twenty main monasteries on the peninsula in September 1856.  It has been known that this drawing was held by Sir Roger and Lady Hollis by descent from Charles Church who received it probably as a gift from Lear himself.  It was exhibited at an exhibition in Sheffield in 1964 and at the Fine Art Society in London in 1988, but no image of the drawing has been available until now.  Lear used his drawing as a basis for the oil painting of Stavroniketes held by the Yale Center for British Art – Mount Athos and the Monastery of Stavronikétes.

There are further details of this and the other Mount Athos monasteries on Edward Lear and Mount Athos His visit in 1856.

Edward Lear, The Monastery of Stavronikita, Mount Athos.
Inscribed and dated ‘Stavroniketas (in Greek)/ 2. Sept./ 1856’ (lower left), and extensively inscribed with artist’s notes throughout. Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour. 13 3/8 x 20 1/8 in. (34 x 51.1 cm.)

Provenance
Charles Church, a gift from the artist, and by descent to the present owners.

Exhibited
Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Edward Lear, Drawings from a Greek Tour, July 1964, no. 44.
London, Fine Art Society, Edward Lear, A Centenary Exhibition, June 1988, no number.

This drawing is a study for Lear’s most famous Mount Athos painting, Mount Athos and the Monastery of Stavronikétes, now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.
Lear attempted to visit Mount Athos in 1848 with Church, but was unsuccessful. He eventually returned in September 1856, visiting all twenty principal monasteries and many of their dependencies. He produced a series of fifty drawings of the monasteries and landscapes, of which the present drawing is part. He apparently intended to publish a volume of his tour of Mount Athos but this was never fulfilled, although he did adapt several of his drawings for his series of illustrations to Tennyson’s poems.

Christie’s.

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