Edward Lear, Nubians at the First Cataract on the Nile at Philae (1867)

Edward Lear, Nubians at the First Cataract on the Nile at Philae, Egypt.
Pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil; inscribed in ink and pencil, lower left: Cataract 1st / 11. A.M. / Jany 30. 1867, further inscribed, lower centre: Nubians mostly white, some pale blue and lower right: A Suleiman (267), also inscribed with colour notes. 170 by 250 mm.

With Spink’s, London;
sale, London, Sotheby’s, 9 March 1989, lot 157,
bt. John, Lord D’Ayton (1922-2003);
thence by descent to the present owners

Lear first visited the Nile in 1854, but the present study dates from his second trip to the great river in the winter of 1866-1867. He was in the company of his Canadian cousin, Archie Jones, whom he met at Luxor and travelled with to Esneh, Edfu and then Philae, which they reached at the end of January 1867. Unfortunately, Archie was a difficult travelling companion and Lear found himself irritated by his lack of enthusiasm for the temples and habit of whistling in the evenings.  Furthermore, Archie ‘finished Philae in three hours, which Lear found sorrowfully unbelievable’1

1. V. Noakes, Edward Lear Selected Letters, Oxford 1988, p. 216.


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