An unusual portrait by Edward Lear.
Edward Lear, Portrait of a lady in traditional Italian dress, seated with lake beyond [recto]; Head study and inscription [verso].
Watercolour, over graphite, dated ‘Jan 17th/ 1838′ lower left, 227 x 140 mm. (8 7/8 x 5 1/2 in), inscribed verso ’14/ upright/ Lower/ left’. Corners trimmed by the artist, the sheet tipped at edges into paper support, 1838. Together with a landscape of an Italian hill-top town by the same hand, pen and black ink, gouache, over graphite, on blue wove paper, 105 x 160 mm. (4 1/8 x 6 1/4 in), inscribed verso ‘117/ upright/Top’, corners trimmed by the artist, [probably late 1830s] (2).
Sale. Sotheby’s London, The British Sale, 21st March 2001, lot 247 (the pair)
In private correspondence with the present owner, the Houghton Library has suggested that the costume study would have been executed while the artist was working in and around Rome, and that the inscriptions on the verso of each drawing were instructions of how Lear wanted the works mounted with other drawings on large sheets of cardboard, which was how the artist originally intended their presentation.
Also take a look at this Bonhams catalogue, Wassenaar Zoo: A Dutch private Library, which includes several books with Edward Lear zoological illustrations.