Commenting on Edward Lear’s impressive painting of Beachy Head, in her recent Inventing Edward Lear, Sara Lodge writes, among much more:
In Beachy Head, Lear directly recalls the dramatic composition of [Frederic] Church’s The Icebergs in a way that is immediately apparent when one sees the two images side by side. The left foreground is a dark and cold foreshore; the sea occupies the middle distance, flowing into a curved bay. But the focus of both paintings is the luminous white expanse of rock / ice that rises sheer in the upper right of the picture, suggesting both the beauty and the harshness of ‘the North’, a title Lear also entertained for his work. It is fascinating that Lear chose to portray the south coast of England as if it were an Arctic landscape. One could see this as a domestication of the Romantic wilderness. However, the opposite is also true. Lear dramatically alienates England in this picture, representing it at its extremity as a strange, cold place whose eroded cliffs are as forbidding as they are impressive.
On Lear and Beachy Head also see: Edward Lear Visits Beachy Head with His Sister Sarah.