Edward Lear, Sigæum (1856)

Edward Lear, Sigæum (30 September 1856, sunrise).
Pencil and watercolour. Signed and inscribed (lower left). 16 x 52cm (6¼ x 20¼ in.)

Sigeion or Sigæum (Latin) was an important site in the Troas (North-West Asia Minor, modern Turkey) at the mouth of the Hellespont, acquired by Athens in the late 7th century BCE.


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Edward Lear’s Topography of Greece

Leucada, 7.30 am, April 1863.

Rowena Fowler has recently updated her website with an important addition to the Edward Lear section about his “Topography of Greece,” a project Lear never completed, which joins the several pages devoted to his travels and works, as well as information on Rowena’s several other projects.

Lots of very nice images, collected in a very well organized form. Careful, this may keep you at your screen for hours: I’ll add a permanent link to the pages to the menu, so you can visit whenever you want.

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Aubrey Beardsley’s Limerick on Illustrating Le Morte Darthur

This manuscript records memories of Aubrey Beardsley’s mother about amateur theatricals put on at home by the adolescent Aubrey and his sister, Mabel, and her  son’s reluctance to fulfil his commission to illustrate an edition of Le Morte Darthur (1893–1894).

In response to maternal prodding, he replied with a limerick:

A youth for a very small salary
Did a cartload of drawings for Malory.
When they asked him for more
He only said ‘Sure
They’ve already enough for a gallery.

Grolier Club.

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Edward Lear, Two Views of Venice from the Bacino (1865)

Edward Lear, Two views of Venice from the Bacinot.
The first signed with monogram (lower right); the second inscribed and dated ‘Venice. 27. Novr 1865’ (lower left) and further inscribed and numbered ‘27.Novr. (66)’ (lower right) and further inscribed with artist’s notes. Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour, the first heightened with bodycolor. The first 4 x 8 in. (10.2 x 20.3 cm); the second 5 1/4 x 7 5/8 in. (13.4 x 19.4 cm).

Although Lear spent ten years in Italy from 1832 until 1842 [this is incorrect], largely based in Rome, he did not visit Venice until 1857, when, as he wrote to his sister Ann on 23 May 1857, ‘I may as well shock you a good thumping shock at once by saying I don’t care a bit for it. I never wish to see it again’ (V. Noakes, ed., Edward Lear: Selected Letters, Oxford, 1988, p. 147).
However, Lear revisited the city in November 1865 with a commission for an oil painting for Countess Waldegrave (Venice; see V. Noakes, Edward Lear 1812-1828, London, 1985, p. 152, no. 59, ill.), and in a letter to Edward Drummond wrote that, ‘this city of palaces, pigeons, poodles and pumpkins…is a wonder and a pleasure’ (A. Davidson, Edward Lear, 2nd ed., 1950, p. 159). Nevertheless, Lear’s depictions of Venice are relatively few in number.


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Edward Lear: Moment to Moment review in the Burlington Magazine

The Burlington Magazine, volume 164, number 1436, November 2022, pp. 1130-1132 contains a review of the Ikon exhibition by Richard Green I think I messid before. Unfortunately it is not one of the free ones.

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Edward Lear, Jerusalem (1858)

Edward Lear, Jerusalem.
Signed with monogram (lower left) and inscribed and dated ‘Jerusalem./ 1858’ (lower right). Pencil, pen and ink and watercolor. 7 1/8 x 14 7/8 in. (18.1 x 37.8 cm).

With Davis Galleries, New York, where purchased by the present owner.


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Another Lear Rebus (?)

The following was recently sold at an auction by Fonsie Mealy’s. It contains Lear’s only colour self-portrait I have seen.

The sale also included some correspondence between a Mrs Elinor Wiltshire, the owner of the sheet at the time (1985), and Vivien Noakes trying to make sense of the picture, which is not very satisfactory, in my opinion:

Mr Lear leaves this his ’appy peaceful season

“this his” is clearly written, but not easy to see in the image above, between the leaves and the picture of “a pea” (the green berry, peas in Italy are round and smooth and not attached to a stalk however) should give “’appy”, but then where does “peace-ful” come from? The “spray of pea blossoms” (if that is what it is) might resolve into “peas” = “peace” followed by “full seas” (the sea actually looks busy, with a steamship and a sailboat, as well as four fish, perhaps corresponding to the four people mentioned at the bottom?) and finally the explicit “on” in the last line

Here are the letters accompanying the image:

And the only passage available from Vivien Noakes’s reply, who I suspect intended to suggest that that the “berry” stood for “very”:

So perhaps:

Mr Lear leaves you this, his berry peas-ful seas-on

Can anyone help?

Sara Lodge kindly sent an interesting interpretation for the rebus (actually two different readings):

Thank you for sharing the coloured rebus. I have looked at it and don’t think the object below Lear is a pea. It looks much more like a plum to me. Peas, as you note, do not have stalks, and they are perfectly spherical.
I suggest ‘this his fruitful season’, or possibly ‘this his plum flowering season’. Lear was always most productive when the sun shone, like a plant. He got money from commissions and sales in the Summer to sustain him through Winter. A ‘plum’ in Victorian slang was a sum of money as well as a fruit or a synonym for ‘choice’, ‘desirable’.

Previously: 1 & 2.

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Edward Lear: Moment to Moment (reviews)

The Ikon exhibition has now closed but here is a page collecting the reviews devoted to it.

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Edward Lear, Coloured Views in the Seven Ionian Islands

From a coloured copy of Views in the Seven Ionian Islands (1863).
folio (497 x 333 mm). (λίγα στίγματα οξείδωσης στον τίτλο). Λιθόγραφος τίτλος με βινιέτα και 20 λιθογραφίες χαραγμένες από τον Lear με βάση σχέδιά του, ΟΛΕΣ ΕΠΙΧΡΩΜΑΤΙΣΜΕΝΕΣ ΜΕ ΤΟ ΧΕΡΙ, 2 φύλλα στην αρχή (εισαγωγή και πίνακας λιθογραφιών), 21 φύλλα με επεξηγηματικά κείμενα (ένα για τη βινιέτα και από ένα για κάθε λιθογραφία) και ένα φύλλο με κατάλογο συνδρομητών στο τέλος. Αρχικό πράσινο πανί (τίτλος με χρυσά γράμματα στο πάνω κάλυμμα, 2 ex-libris, το ένα του Earl of Dartmouth). Blackmer 987, Weber, I, 1183, Παπαδόπουλος (Iονική) 4288. – ΠΟΛΥ ΚΑΛΟ ΑΝΤΙΤΥΠΟ.
[folio (497 x 333 mm). (a few spots of oxidation on the title). Lithograph title with vignette and 20 lithographs engraved by Lear from his designs, ALL COLORED BY HAND, 2 leaves at the beginning (introduction and table of lithographs), 21 leaves with explanatory texts (one for the vignette and one for each lithograph) and a subscriber list sheet at the end. Original green cloth (title lettered in gold on upper cover, 2 ex-libris, one by the Earl of Dartmouth). Blackmer 987, Weber, I, 1183, Papadopoulos (Ionic) 4288. – VERY GOOD COPY.] Google translation.


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Edward Lear, A Group of Owls

Edward Lear, A Group of Owls, from Birds of Europe, c. 1835.
A group of 5 lithographs with hand-coloring on wove paper, printed by C. Hullmandel, London.

Barn Owl – Strix flammea; Barred Owl – Strix neblosa; Great Cinereous Owl – Strix Lapponica; Eastern Great Horned Owl – Bubo Ascalaphus; Little Owl – Strix nudipes (5). 19 1/2 x 13 1/2in (49.5 x 34.3cm).


More from the same auction (not Lear):

John Gould & H.C. Richter (British, 1804-1881), A Group of Owls, from Birds of Europe and Birds of Great Britain, c. 1830; c. 1870.
A group of 5 lithographs with hand-coloring on wove paper, one printed by C. Hullmandel, London, the others printed by Walter, London, with margins, each framed.

Tawny or Wood Owl – Strix aluco; Bubo maximus; Snowy Owl – Nyctea nivea; Syrnium aluco; Strix flammea. 19 1/2 x 13 1/2in (49.5 x 34.3cm).



John Gould (British, 1804-1881), A Group of Owls, from Birds of Great Britain and Birds of New Guinea, c. 1865.
A group of three lithographs with hand-coloring on wove paper, printed by Mintern Bro’s and Walter, London with margins, together with R. Milford, Long Eared Owl, engraving with hand-coloring on wove paper, with margins, each framed.

Ninox forbesi; Ninox odiosa; Athene noctua (4)
each sight 19 1/2 x 13 1/2in (49.5 x 34.3cm)
each framed 26 3/4 x 20 1/2in (67.9 x 52.1cm)


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