Edward Lear, Thermopylae, 30 June 1848



Edward Lear, Thermopylae, 30 June 1848.
Pen and brown and blue ink with watercolour over pencil, heightened with white on grey paper; inscribed lower right: 102 / Thermopylae / 30 June 1848; further inscribed with artist’s notes. 175 by 28 mm.

Edward Lear arrived in Greece on 1st June 1848 before setting out on a tour of the central part of that country with his friend and patron, Charles Church. Unfortunately, their journey was beset by misfortune and Lear was thrown from his horse on the first day. Despite a sprained shoulder he refused to turn back and they visited Chalcis, Euboea, Eretia, Aliveri, Kumi, Lamia and Patragik before reaching ‘the celebrated pass of Thermopylae’1on the 30th. By the time they reached Thebes however Lear had developed a fever and, dangerously ill, he had to be brought back to Athens ‘by four horses on an indiarubber bed.’2

1. V. Noakes, Edward Lear Selected Letters, London 1988, p. 80.


Sale, London, Sotheby’s, 20 November 1986, lot 188;
with Spink’s, London;
John, Lord D’Ayton (1922-2003);
thence by decent to the present owners


London, Sotheby’s, Edward Lear, An Exhibition of Works by Edward Lear from the D’Ayton International Collection, assembled by John D’Ayton, 2004, no. 9

Sotheby’s Old Master & British Drawings including French Masterworks from the Dormeuil Collection.
2. Lady Constance Strachey, Letters of Edward Lear, London 1907, p. 11.

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