Edward Lear and Kleptomania

Edward Lear
Was haunted by a fear
While travelling in Albania
Of contracting kleptomania.

W.H. Auden, Academic Graffiti (1971). More here.
I just learned about this clerihew from the latest issue of the TLS.

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A New Edward Lear Cartoon

Edward Lear (attrib.), drawing, ex. Ford Found., Attributed to Edward Lear (British, 1812-1888), “Please my Lord I want to be made a Bishop”, pen and brown ink caricature drawing on paper, no visible signature, inscribed in pencil verso “Edward Lear”, 4.25″h x 6.75″w (sight), 8.75″h x 11.25″w (frame).

Good/Fair, minor creases, some areas of light foxing

The Ford Foundation Collection

The Saleroom.

A new cartoon, that looks quite Learian to me with its mixture of realism and caricature. It is not mentioned in the Appendix to my article on “Edward Lear: A Life in Pictures.” Unfortunately it cannot be dated, but it must have been made for some special occasion. Lear liked jokes on titles (bishops and kings his favourites) and their pursuit.

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Edward Lear, Parga, Greece & Monastir, Albania

Edward Lear, Parga, Greece; and Monastir, Albania.
The first, signed with monogram and dated ‘1864’ (lower right); the second, signed with monogram and dated ‘1861’ (lower right). Oil on panel. 6 7/8 x 11 in. (17.2 x 28 cm.); and smaller.

with Gooden & Fox, London.

Lear travelled through Albania and Macedonia in 1848 and his journals of that time give an insight into the country and its customs during the 19th century. They detail some of the challenges and romance of travelling through a country previously unseen by many foreigners. He was particularly struck by the beauty of Monastir (Bitola): ‘the bustle and brilliancy….is remarkable…a river runs through the town…. either look up or down the river, the intermixture of minarets and mosques, with cypress and willow foliage, forms subjects of the most admirable beauty.’ (B. Destani (ed.), Edward Lear in Albania: Journals of a Landscape Painter in the Balkans, London, 2008, p. 21). Parga ‘from every point… lovely’ was observed to be ‘very unlike Albanian landscape in general’ (op.cit., p. 184) but rather closer to Calabria and Amalfi. Both the present paintings were worked up from sketches several years later, as Lear found working outdoors in Albania presented one unforseen challenge: many locals thought his activities the work of the devil and he was often driven away from his chosen vantage point.


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Edward Lear, Near Suez (1849)

Edward Lear, Near Suez, evening, 15 January 1849.
Watecolour with pen in brown ink over graphite on moderately  thick, rough, beige wove paper. 13.3 x 23.2 cm.
Yale Center for British Art. Gift of D. Gallup.

From Braeuner, Hélène. “British Travellers in teh Isthmus of Suez from 1798 to 1859.” In Caroline Lehni (ed.). Geographies of Contact: Britain, the Middle East and the Circulation of Knowledge. Strasbourg: Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 2019. 149-160. 155.

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Edward Lear, Monte Soratte near Rome

Edward Lear, Monte Soratte near Rome, Italy.
Signed twice with monogram and indistinctly dated ’18[?]’ (lower right) and inscribed and numbered ‘6 SORACTE. [sic.]/Brock.6. Corso d’Italia Rome.’ (on the stretcher). Oil on canvas. 9 ½ x 18 ½ in. (24.1 x 47 cm.)

With Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 1970, where purchased by
Sir John Ward, G.C.M.G., and by descent to the present owner.

Lear first arrived in Rome in December 1837, and he lived in the city on and off until 1848, returning again in the winters of 1859-60, 1871 and 1877. The city and its surroundings inspired his first travel book Views in Rome and its environs, published in 1841, complete with panoramic lithographs of the scenery. Monte Soracte, or Soratte, lies north of Rome near Nepi, halfway to Viterbo. Although the inscription has faded the painting may date to the 1880s: at least one studio drawing of the subject from 1883 is known, presumably based on an earlier sketch, and was sold in these Rooms on 12 November 1996.


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Edward Laer: A Life in Pictures

Christmas came early this year for me; last night I received an e-mail informing me that European Comic Art, 12.2, with my article “Edward Lear: A Life in Pictures” (pp.  17-44) is now published and available online to subscribers. Here is the abstract:

Edward Lear has secured a prominent position in the history of literature and travel writing thanks to his nonsense books and his journals; he is considered one of the most innovative zoological illustrators of the nineteenth century and is being rediscovered as a landscape painter in watercolour and oil. This article argues that he also deserves to be remembered among the precursors of modern comic art. His picture stories, though never published in his lifetime, represent an early instance of autobiographical graphic narrative, while his limericks, never out of print since 1861, introduced a radically innovative caricatural style and a conception of the relationship between pictures and text that strongly influenced modern comic artists.

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Two Essays and a Lecture

Ekaterina Shatalova sent me two PDF file containing an interesting article on Edward Lear’s Russian illustrators and her Master’s thesis:


Illustrating Nonsense Lear and the Shock of the New

Meanwhile, Robert Peck’s lecture on The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear is now online here.

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