Edward Lear’s 1838 Stay in Amalfi


Above is a page from the Guest Book of Albergo Cappuccini in Amalfi. In the upper half are the signatures of Edward Lear and James Uwins, “Pittori Inglesi. Contentissime. 3. weeks. 18. July. 1838” (English Painters. Very Satisfied. 3 weeks. 18. July.1838).

It is from an exhibition catalogue, Alla ricerca del Sud: Tre secoli di viaggi ad Amalfi nell’immaginario europeo. Edited by Dieter Richter. Scandicci: La Nuova Italia, 1989. 132.

Achille Vianelli, Sant'Arcangelo di Cava.

Achille Vianelli, Sant’Arcangelo di Cava. Here.

Interestingly, just after Lear and Uwin’s entry is one for two Italian painters, belonging to the School of Posillipo (Italian): Achille Vianelli (Italian) and Ercole Gigante (1815-1860), the latter a member of an artistic dynasty began by his father Gaetano and continued by three more siblings: Emilia, Achille and, of particular interest, Giacinto. The Italians’ opinion was also extremely postitive: “Sempre contentissimi di padroni. Li 22 Luglio 1838 -” (Always very satisfied with the owners. On 22 July 1838). Impossible to think that the two groups did not get to know each other.

Ercole Gigante, Vista del mare dai Cappuccini.

Ercole Gigante, Vista del mare dai Cappuccini [the hotel?]. Here.

Of Giacinto Gigante, whose style strongly influenced Ercole’s, Peter Levi writes (Edward Lear: A Biography. New York & London: Scribner, 1995. 81):

His [Lear’s] Neapolitan contemporary (1806-1876), Giacinto Gigante of the ‘school of Posillipo’, knew Craven and Gell, and some of his landscapes have a striking resemblance to mature Lears, the subjects being alike, and the rocky foreground with the asphodels, the light on a pair of stone pines, the distant cliff: but Gigante is not as meticulous as Lear became.

The catalogue was kindly sent to me by the Centro di Cultura e Storia Amalfitana, and it can also be freely downloaded here. Though it is richly illustrated, there are no reproductions of paintings by Edward Lear, but next year the Centro will produce a book with over 100 pictures drawn by Lear during his visits to the Amalfi area in 1838 and 1844.

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