This one is a very unusual picture for Edward Lear, and I think it shows clearly why he avoided placing large human figures in the foreground of his paintings. Here the two boys are drawn in a stiff pose and appear completely separated from the surrounding landscape: they have nothing of the cartoony life of his nonsense drawings or even of the cat one of them is holding.
Edward Lear, Hubert and Arnold Congreve, one carrying a cat on a slope above the Villa Congreve, San Remo.
Signed with monogram, dated and inscribed ‘Villa Congreve. San Remo/June.27.1871’ (lower left). Pencil, pen and watercolour with touches of gum arabic. 17.2 x 11.8cm (6 3/4 x 4 5/8in).
Lear could be amateurish. He seemed to touch his human subjects with a ten foot pole.
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