Two Paintings of the Campagna by Edward Lear

Edward Lear, The Campagna di Roma taken from Cervara.
Signed with monogram (lower left); signed, inscribed and dated ‘The Campagna di Roma taken from… of Cervara,/looking East to the Sabine Hills/Painted from drawings made on the spot in 1859, 1860; and completed by me for/ Walter Congreve Esq. in 1871/ Edward Lear/ San Remo’ (on a label on the reverse). Oil on canvas. 65 x 129.5cm (25 9/16 x 51in).

Provenance
Commissioned directly from the artist by Walter Congreve Esq., San Remo.

Literature
Edward Lear, List of Pictures Painted, 1840-1877, no. 240, as: Campagna di Roma. Quarries of Cerbara.

The Elements- trees, clouds, &c.,-silence…seem to have far more part with me or I with them, than mankind.
(Edward Lear, 1862, quoted in Vivien Noakes, The Painter Edward Lear, 1991, p. 8)

Edward Lear travelled to Rome for the first time in December 1837, and he spent most of his time in the city until 1848, returning subsequently in the winters of 1859-60, 1871 and 1877. Each summer the artist would spend time exploring other parts of Italy. Lear started painting in oil in 1838. His compositions were mostly created in his studio starting from his travel sketchbooks, as per the present lots.
The artist was fascinated by the beauty and force of nature that led him to create the most poetic of views and landscapes. Rome and its surroundings acted as a great source of inspiration for Lear and lead him to the creation of his first travel book, Views in Rome and its environs, published in 1841.
The present lots were painted starting from sketches made by Lear on the spot in the tufa quarries of Cervara, east of Rome, during winter 1859-60. He wrote ‘there is a charm about this Campagna when it becomes all purple & gold, which it is difficult to tear one’s self from. Thus-climate & beauty of atmosphere regain their hold on the mind-pen & pencil'[1]
The present and subsequent lots were painted for Walter Congreve Esq., a friend and neighbour of Lear in San Remo, where the artist lived from 1870. Congreve sold Lear a plot adjacent to that of his Villa on which to build the first house the painter owned, Villa Emily. Congreve was the British Vice-Consul in San Remo from 1873 to 1885.
A watercolour by Lear of this same area was sold in these rooms in 2014 (Bonhams Knightsbridge, 9 September 2014, lot 31, see fig 1).

[1] Edward Lear, Letter to Ann, 27 March 1848.

Bonhams.

Edward Lear, The Campagna di Roma.
Signed with monogram (lower left); further signed, inscribed and dated ‘The Campagna di Roma. Taken from the Quarries of Cerbara, looking/ South-East towards the Volscian Hills & Alban Mount./ Commenced by me from drawings made on the spot in 1859-1860 & completed/for Walter Congreve Esq. in 1871/ Edward Lear./ San Remo/ June 18.1871’ (on a label on the reverse). Oil on canvas. 65 x 129.5cm (25 9/16 x 51in).

Provenance
Commissioned directly from the artist by Walter Congreve Esq., San Remo.

Literature
Edward Lear, List of pictures painted, 1840-1877, no. 241, as Campagna di Roma. Quarries of Cerbara.

Bonhams.

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1 Response to Two Paintings of the Campagna by Edward Lear

  1. Ron says:

    So was Apollo shepherd-like in feature,
    That other shepherds were as fair and fleet ;
    For where in such clear orbit moveth Nature,
    All worlds in inter-action meet.

    Thus hath success my fate and thine attended ;
    Henceforth behind us let the past be furled !
    O, feel thyself from highest God descended !
    For thou belongest to the primal world.

    Thy life shall circumscribe no fortress frowning !
    Still, in eternal youth, stands as it stood.
    For us, our stay with every rapture crowning,
    Arcadia in Sparta’s neighbourhood.

    To tread this happy soil at last incited,
    Thy flight was towards a joyous destiny 1
    Now let our throne become a bower unblighted,
    Our bliss become Arcadian and free !

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