Edward Lear, Colonus (1849)

Edward Lear, Colonus.
Signed, inscribed with title and dated ‘April 8/49’. Pen ink and watercolour on tinted paper. 8 ¾ x 13 ½ inches.

Colonus (or Kolonos) was once an aristocratic municipality of ancient Attica, and is now a working-class suburb in north-west Athens. it was dedicated to the Equestrian Poseidon, and so is sometimes known as hippeios kolonos. the birthplace of the tragedian, Sophocles, in 496 BC, the area was also the setting of the third and last of his famous Theban plays, Oedipus at Colonus (which premiered in Athens in 401 BC, five years after Sophocles’ death). according to the play, and the mythology on which it was based, Oedipus was buried there. in the early nineteenth century, the leading German Classicist, Karl Otfried Müller (1797-1840), was similarly interred, while, almost 20 years later, his body was joined by the heart of the French archaeologist, Charles Lenormant (1802-1859). Monuments to both men still stand in what is now a local park.

The present drawing, by Edward Lear and Franklin Lushington, takes in the view southwest from Colonus, across the Saronic Gulf to Aegina and the coast of Argolis on the Peloponnese.

‘Chris Beetles Summer Show’, 2021, No 28.

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