A Note to John Newbott from Edward Lear

International Autograph Auctions have a note written by Edward Lear on 8 February to a collegue in Rome, introducing Gussie Bethell:

newbott

LEAR EDWARD: (1812-1888) English Artist, Illustrator and Poet. Brief A.L.S., Edward Lear, one page, small 8vo, Nice, 8th February 1865, to Newbolt. Lear writes, in full, ‘My friends Mr & Miss Bethell would gladly see your landscape, if you will be so good as to show them your studio’. Neatly trimmed, just affecting two words of text, and laid down causing some slight thinning at the foot of the letter, very slightly affecting the place and date.
Provenance: The verso of the present letter bears the small circular label of the Rawlins Collection. Although the signature is not the one reproduced in either Four Hundred Years of British Autographs (1970) or The Guinness Book of World Autographs (1977), the present letter was offered by Sotheby’s when they sold the Rawlins Collection, 2nd – 4th June 1980 (Lot 1161, estimate £30/40, hammer price £45). Curiously, Sotheby’s described the letter as having been written to Henry Newbolt, although this would appear impossible as the English poet had only been born in 1862.

The information is incorrect, the note is not addressed to a “Newbolt” but rather to John Newbott (or Newbolt) (1805-1867), a painter who had been working in Rome since the late 1820s; here are a few of his Roman paintings I found surfing the web.

John Newbott, Vue du Tibre et du château Saint Ange

John Newbott, Vue du Tibre et du château Saint Ange

John Newbott, Le Château Saint Ange et le temple de Vesta

John Newbott, Le Château Saint Ange et le temple de Vesta

Lear’s diary entry for 8 February 1865 reads:

X3.
Rose at 6.45. Breakfast 8.30.
Went to Victoria Hotel, & saw the Gussie & Wally ― who afterwards walked to my rooms here.
(Richard has gone back to England: ― Emma is very ill still. ―)
Drove about with them afterwards, & from 1 to 4 wrote letters of introduction for them to Rome, & notes. At 4 ― walked & sate with Gussie who is by no means strong enough for this journey.
At 6. Dined at the table d’hôte (paying 7.50 ^[cent] for my own dinner,) & sate with poor little Gussie till 8.30.
Home ― & bed: tired. ―

Augusta “Gussie” Bethell (1838-1931) was the fourth daughter of Sir Richard Bethell. She was probably the only woman that Lear seriously thought of marrying; she was passing through Nice on her way to Italy and stopped for a couple of days to visti Lear. “Wally” was her younger brother Walter John Bethell (1842-1907).

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