Edward Lear, The monastery of Great Lavra, Mount Athos.
Inscribed in Greek and dated ‘Lavra./ 6. Septr. 1856.’ and numbered ’26’ twice (lower right) and ‘2’ (verso) and further inscribed with colour notes. Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour. 6 ¼ x 10 1/8 in. (15.9 x 25.7 cm.)
Charles Church, a gift from the artist, and by descent to the present owner.
During Lear’s long tour of Mount Athos in September 1856 he travelled throughout the peninsular and succeeded in visiting all twenty principal monasteries and many of their dependencies. He produced a series of fifty drawings of the monasteries and landscapes, of which the following three drawings are part. He apparently intended to publish a volume of his tour of Mount Athos but this was never fulfilled, although he did adapt several of his drawings for his series of illustrations to Tennyson’s poems.
Charles Church (1823-1915), later the Dean of Wells, met Lear in Italy in the winter of 1847, whilst Church was travelling through Europe on his way to stay with his uncle Sir Richard Church (1784-1873), who had commanded the Greek forces in the War of Independence against Turkey. The two men travelled together through Greece in the summer of 1848 and became lifelong friends. Church amassed a considerable collection of his friend’s work.
Just to say that these three lovely Lears went today at Christies for: Lot 304 £11,875 (est. from £4k); Lot 305 £10625 (est. from £3k); and Lot 306 £10,000 (est. from £2.5k) – including commissions. Details on the Christies site you refer to.