Lear, Far and Near

JOHN UPDIKE: Lear, Far and Near
Even during Edward Lear’s lifetime, his nonsense verse tended to detract from the seriousness of his landscape painting. In the corner of a letter Lear had written Ruskin in 1883, the great critic nonresponsively jotted, “Is this the nonsense man?” A few years later, Ruskin in Pall Mall Magazine praised the writer but ignored the artist. Posthumously, appreciation of the art must work its way around (to quote a review from 1930) “the Himalaya of nonsense [whereupon] Edward Lear sits enthroned.” The catalog of one exhibit of his watercolors almost insultingly speaks of “Edward Lear, ‘the landscape painter’ as he was wont to call himself.”
New York Review of Books

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