Edward Lear, The Monastery of Stavronikita, Mount Athos (1856)

Of the picture below, Stephen Duckworth, who kindly informed me of this sale of several Lear paintings, writes:

This fine view of Stavroniketes monastery on the Mount Athos peninsula was drawn by Lear early on his journey round the twenty main monasteries on the peninsula in September 1856.  It has been known that this drawing was held by Sir Roger and Lady Hollis by descent from Charles Church who received it probably as a gift from Lear himself.  It was exhibited at an exhibition in Sheffield in 1964 and at the Fine Art Society in London in 1988, but no image of the drawing has been available until now.  Lear used his drawing as a basis for the oil painting of Stavroniketes held by the Yale Center for British Art – Mount Athos and the Monastery of Stavronikétes.

There are further details of this and the other Mount Athos monasteries on Edward Lear and Mount Athos His visit in 1856.

Edward Lear, The Monastery of Stavronikita, Mount Athos.
Inscribed and dated ‘Stavroniketas (in Greek)/ 2. Sept./ 1856’ (lower left), and extensively inscribed with artist’s notes throughout. Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour. 13 3/8 x 20 1/8 in. (34 x 51.1 cm.)

Charles Church, a gift from the artist, and by descent to the present owners.

Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Edward Lear, Drawings from a Greek Tour, July 1964, no. 44.
London, Fine Art Society, Edward Lear, A Centenary Exhibition, June 1988, no number.

This drawing is a study for Lear’s most famous Mount Athos painting, Mount Athos and the Monastery of Stavronikétes, now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.
Lear attempted to visit Mount Athos in 1848 with Church, but was unsuccessful. He eventually returned in September 1856, 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 present drawing is 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.


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