Edward Lear to Lady Rawlinson

An 1866 advertising circular Edward Lear sent to Lady Rawlinson (wife of Sir Henry Rawlinson), enclosing an alphabet “towards the education of [her] son” (unfortunately not included) and two photographs, one of which, Lear painting in his studio, I do not remember ever seeing. The letter is interesting as it shows that Lear was very interested in the preservation of his productions for individual children. I do not know whether the alphabet has been preserved, however.

Also included is a pencil portrait of a bearded man in profile: this does not much look like Lear, in my opinion.

The letter is for sale here. The description, including a full transcript of the letter is below.





EDWARD LEAR Autograph Letter Signed

English artist, illustrator, author and poet, renowned today primarily for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose, and especially his limericks, a form that he popularised.

ALS. 2pp. 15 Stratford Place, Oxford Street, W. June 18th 1866. To “Dear Lady Rawlinson”. Together with two contemporary carte de visite portrait photographs of Edward Lear and a pencil sketch possibly by his hand.

“The accompanying Alphabet is an offering towards the education of your son, of which I beg you to accept. I made his acquaintance at Knoyle last Autumn, when you and Sir Henry Rawlinson were absent from home.

I think – if the Alphabet is worth keeping – it will be worth pasting on coarse Holland, the edges of which may be bound round with a blue or red binding, when the whole may be stitched with one volume, presenting a cheerful appearance to the youthful mind and preserving the contents from sudden and total destruction by the youthful fingers.

I was sorry to find Mrs. Seymour was poorly when I called a few days back.”

The letter is integral to a printed sheet with an announcement of an exhibition of Lear’s Views in Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Sicily, Italy, etc, at his studios.

Together with two carte de visite photographs of Edward Lear (one by L. Caldesi & Co showing him painting in his studio and the other a vignette portrait by McLean Melhuish & Haes).  Together with a pencil sketch from the same album leaf on which these items were mounted showing a bearded, balding gentleman (who resembles Lear himself) with an undeciphered name or signature below and dated 1865 Jany 30.  The sketch is possibly by Edward Lear or of him.  The letter is torn along fold between the two leaves and with some creasing and mounting traces on verso of the printed leaf. Both photographs are fine. The drawing has some browning to bottom edge, offsetting from a mounting on an opposite page of the album and mounting traces on the verso.

From a 19th century album compiled by Maj.-Gen. Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810-1895) and his wife, Louisa Caroline Harcourt Rawlinson (nee Seymour). Sir Henry Rawlinson was a British politician and orientalist, sometimes described as the Father of Assyriology.

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