Exhibition shows more watercolourful side to Edward Lear
EDWARD Lear is best known as the writer of much loved nonsense verses such as The Owl and the Pussycat, but a new Edinburgh exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland aims to showcase his legacy as an inspired Victorian artist.
Travels with Edward Lear: Watercolours from the Runciman Collection contains 32 watercolours by Edward Lear (1812-1888) and opens on The Mound. The watercolours have come from the estate of Sir Stephen Runciman (1903-2000) and were accepted by the government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Gallery of Scotland last year. These particular works are all depictions of sites in the eastern Mediterranean that Lear visited during the 1850s and 1860s and provide insights into the pre-occupations of one the most engaging of Victorian travellers.
Christopher Baker, the chief curator for the National Gallery of Scotland, said Lear�s prowess as an artist was often overlooked.
He said: “Lear is best known as a writer of nonsense poems, but even The Owl and the Pussycat he illustrated beautifully himself.
“He started drawing commercially from the age of 16 and when he reached 25 he turned to landscape painting and spent the next ten years in Rome refining his skills.
“Aside from publishing travel books he was even invited to give a series of 12 drawing lessons to Queen Victoria,” said Mr Baker. “This exhibition focuses on his travels around Greece and surrounding islands which he felt was a part of the world artists had yet to do justice to at the time.
“He engaged very directly with the stunning landscape around him especially in places like Corfu and once famously continued on a climb to paint Suli, on mainland Greece, when his canteen of materials fell over a steep cliff after his mule stumbled on a narrow path.”
Scotsman.com News | 12 January 2004
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On Lear and Nonsense
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