Edward Lear, The Pass of Bavella, Corsica.
Signed with the artist’s monogram EL lower left. Watercolour and pen and brown ink, heightened with white on blue paper. 30 by 46.6cm., 11¾ by 18½ in. framed: 51 by 67.5cm., 20 by 26½in.
Probably Richard Bethell, 1st Baron Westbury (1800–1873) or his daughter the Hon. Augusta Bethell, later Mrs Parker (1839-1931)
By family descent to the present owner
This large-scale watercolour shows the magnificent forested mountains of Bavella in Corsica. Lear travelled to the island from Cannes on mainland France on the 8 April. He was to spend just under a month there and he was much taken by the landscapes. He was particularly impressed by Bavella, about which he wrote: ‘The colour here is more beautiful than in most mountain passes I have seen, owing to the great variety of underwood foliage and the thick clothing of herbs; forms, too, of granite rocks seem to me more individually interesting than those of other formations; and the singular grace and beauty of the pine-trees has a peculiar charm – their tall stems apparently so slender, and so delicate the proportions of the tuft of foliage crowning them. The whole of this profound gorge, at the very edge of which the road runs, is full of mountain scenes of the utmost splendor, and would furnish pictures by the score to a painter who could remain for a lengthened sojourn.’1
1. Edward Lear, Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica, London, 1870, p. 91