Edward Lear, Mount Etna at Sunset (1864)

Edward Lear, Mount Etna at Sunset.
Inscribed ‘Etna 5 June 7pm 1864’ and with colour notes, numbered (183) l.r., pen and brown ink and watercolour. 6.7 x 27cm.

With the Fine Art Society, London, 1962.

Probably drawn while getting back from Crete as the numbering continues from that series.

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Edward Lear, Castel Giubileo (?)

Edward Lear, Castel Giubileo (?).
Dated, Jan 7th 1845/brown ink, 21.5cm x 38cm.

The Saleroom.

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La taupe suspendue

Félix Bracquemond (Paris 1833–1914 Sèvres), Les Taupes, 1854.
Etching; sixth state of seven. Sheet: 19 1/8 × 12 1/16 in. (48.6 × 30.7 cm) Plate: 10 5/8 × 7 5/8 in. (27 × 19.4 cm).
Inscribed in plate, lower right: “Bracquemond sculp.”
Inscribed in plate, bottom center: “LES TAUPES / Paris, Publié par CADART & LUQUET, Editeurs, 79, Rue Richelieu.”
Inscribed in plate, lower right: “Imp. Delâtre, Rue St. Jacques, 303, Paris.”

Aux ramilles du peuplier
Danse la taupe suspendue,
Et vers la ferme le Taupier
Va réclamer la somme due.

The Met.

Was Edward Lear inspired by this? See his first collection of “Botanies” (1871):

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Two Edward Lear Pictures on eBay

Edward Lear, An Antique British Interior Sketch Signed E.L. Dated Jan 1st 1868.
6.75 x 5.55 inches the sheet.

[I think I should know, but can’t remember what the object on the left is; can anyone remind me? Marco]


Edward Lear, Defile between Jerusalem & Jericho.
Charcoal on paper, c.1837/1838. Inscribed l.l. ‘Defile between Jerusalem & Jericho’ and l.r. ‘EL’, 25.6 x 18.3 cm.

The Little Gallery (5 Kensington Church Walk, London) – sold 5/6/82;
Collection of Miss Gertrude Lushington, daughter of Lear’s executor;
Collection of Dr Edward Brett.

Rev. John Antes Latrobe. Scripture Illustrations; being a series of Engravings on steel and wood. London, 1838. See page 201 for engraving ‘Defile between Jerusalem and Jericho’ that is inscribed to William Harvey.
Vivien Noakes (ed.). Edward Lear 1812-1888. Exhibition Catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts: London, 1985.

Reverend John Antes Latrobe (1799-1878) was the author of ‘Scripture Illustrations’ in 1838 that included various biblical locations. The introduction states that original drawings were made by ‘travellers’ (including Sir Robert Kerr Porter) and then were worked up by the artists William Harvey and Samuel Williams. A work labelled ‘Defile between Jerusalem and Jericho’ looks remarkably similar to our drawing except for the fact that it includes figures. The engraving is inscribed W HARVEY and offers an intriguing link with Lear who worked under Harvey when he was first employed at London Zoo in 1829. In fact, they both worked on the illustrations for a book ‘The Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society Delineated’ (1830-31) but only Harvey was credited with the drawings in the publication itself. Since Harvey was the senior artist at this point in Lear’s career this may have also been the case for Latrobe’s 1838 book with Lear not receiving any public recognition.

Harvey may have asked Lear to provide a landscape sketch to fit the description Latrobe asked for and then added the figures himself to depict the story of the Good Samaritan from Saint Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 10. This would explain why Lear’s landscape is not quite the same as the one used for the publication and rules out a direct copy. The other theory is that Lear may have wanted drawings of the Holy Land to take with him for his visit to Palestine in 1858. However, it would have been easier for him to take engravings and David Roberts’ extensive lithographic works on Egypt and the Holy Land were widely available having been released to wide acclaim in the 1840s. Furthermore, Lear was known to have experimented with charcoal early in his career. Vivien Noakes’s 1985 exhibition catalogue (p.93) mentions that ‘Lear’s earliest surviving landscape drawings date from 1834. The vigorous use of soft, dark line and white chalk highlights is characteristic of much of his work until the early 1840s, and shows an awareness of the work of J.D. Harding.’ Therefore, producing the landscape for Harvey’s engraving in 1838 would certainly fit this timeline.

A label next to the picture states that this work was in the collection of ‘Miss Gertrude Lushington, Lear’s executor.’ This intriguing link back to the artist is worth briefly exploring. On a voyage to Malta in the spring of 1849 Lear met Franklin Lushington (1823-1901) who became one of his closest friends. Lushington wrote that ‘I have never known a man who deserved more love for his goodness of heart & his determination to do right; & I don’t think any human being knew him better than I did. There never was a more generous or more unselfish soul’ (Noakes, p. 199). After Lear’s death Lushington was appointed the executor of Lear’s estate. He was left all of the artist’s papers and paintings, and the profit from selling the Villa of Tennyson along with its contents went to Franklin’s eldest daughter, [Louisa] Gertrude.’ Lear was Gertrude’s godfather and wrote ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ for her.


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Edward Lear, Black Mountain, Cephalonia

Edward Lear, Black Mountain, Cephalonia.
Watercolor on wove paper, circa 1863. 260×360 mm; 10 1/4×14 1/4 inches. Initialed and titled in pencil, lower right recto, and annotated “4” in pencil, upper left recto.

Private collection, Massachusetts.


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Edward Lear. Bedouin Soldiers on a Hillside

Edward Lear, Bedouin Soldiers Resting on a Hillside.
Pen and brown ink on wove paper. 117×188 mm; 4 3/4×7 1/2 inches. Signed in ink, lower left recto.

Private collection, Chicago.


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Edward Lear, Saint Moritz, Switzerland

Edward Lear, Saint Moritz, Switzerland, watercolour on grey paper, depicting a panoramic landscape, with a village nestling at the foot of a range of snow-topped mountains, trees in the foreground to the left, and clouds gathering overhead, annotated in brown ink by the artist lower right ‘101.H.’, with pencilled title ‘St. Maurice’ to verso also in the artist’s hand, and additional sketches by the artist to verso of a standing man and seated woman in Swiss costume, as well as a small sketch of a panoramic landscape, 15.5 x 23.9cm (6 1/8 x 9 3/8ins), mounted, framed and glazed (33.4 x 41.7cm), backboard with typed label detailing Sotheby’s provenance and printed label of The Rowley Gallery, London

Provenance: Sotheby’s, July 29th, 1971.

This drawing is almost certainly one of a number dating from Edward Lear’s tour of Europe in the summer of 1837. On July 10th that year the artist boarded the Antwerp packet, accompanied by his sister, Ann, who travelled with him as far as Brussels. On leaving Belgium Lear travelled through Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland, reaching the Italian lakes by the autumn, arriving in Florence in November and Rome in December. In 2012 Christie’s sold a drawing of Sion in Switzerland by Lear, dated 17th September 1837, which, like the present work, was annotated with an ‘H’ to the lower right corner (Christie’s, London, Old Master & Early British Drawings and Watercolours, 3rd July 2012, lot 156).

We are grateful to Charles Nugent, former curator of British Drawings at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, and author of Edward Lear the Landscape Artist: Tours of Ireland and the English Lakes, 1835 & 1836, for assistance with this catalogue description.

Dominic Winter.

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Edward Lear, On the Nile

Edward Lear, On the Nile.
Pen and brown ink on laid paper. Watermarked: 1836 and embosed with a fleur de lys. 4 1/4″ x 7 1/4″ sheet; 11″ x 13 1/4″.

George and Fanny Coombe (nee Drewitt), Peppering House, Sussex.


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Edward Lear: Moment to Moment

The exhibition, Edward Lear: Moment to Moment, opening on 9 September, now has a web page where you can find more information.

Co-curated by Matt Bevis and Jonathan Watkins at Ikon in Birmingham.

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Per la Calabria selvaggia: 109 previously unpublished drawings by EDward Lear

Raffaele Gaetano, author of another interesting booklet on Edward Lear, Senza ombre di cerimonie. Sull’ospitalità nei «Diari di viaggio in Calabria» di Edward Lear, which by the way contains some of the recipes of the peculiar dishes offered to Lear during his Calabrian tour, kindly sent me an impressive volume entitled Per la Calabria selvaggia: 109 disegni inediti di Edward Lear. Dalla Collezione della Central Library di Liverpool. As the title states the imposing volume contain all the pictures which were bound with the print edition of Journals of a Landscape Painter in Southern Calabria (1852) thanks to Thomas George Baring, Lord Northbrook, whom Lear had given a great number of the originals drawn during the tour.

The pictures are preceded by a long essay telling the story of the collection, by extensive comments on the pictures themselves and containing a lot of information on the families that gave Lear hospitality. A very nice tome and well worth having: unfortunately, it is not for sale (yet). It is a numbered signed edition published with the contribution of Regione Calabria and Comune di Motta San Giovanni, though Raffaele hopes to have an edition published for the general public shortly; he also promises a further book on Lear’s visit to Calabria, treating in greater detail the history of the people Lear met during the tour.

Here is the new entry in the Edward Lear Criticism bibliography:
Gaetano, Raffaele. Per la Calabria selvaggia: 109 disegni inediti di Edward Lear. Reggio Calabria: iiriti editore, 2021.

While we are at it, here is a new, very interesting article:
Masud, Noreen. “Edward Lear: Sudden and Surprising.” Modern Philology 119.3 (2022): 421-41.

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