Edward Lear, Amalfi (1844)

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Edward Lear, Amalfi .
Inscribed and dated ‘Amalfihi/8. June. 1844’ (lower right). Pen and ink over traces of pencil. 48 x 34.5cm (18 7/8 x 13 9/16in).

Provenance
Ex collection of art critic Nicolas Powell (1920-1986).
Private collection, UK (thence by descent).

Bonhams.

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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:

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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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Edward Lear in the TLS

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The Times Literary Supplement for 3 February has not one, not two, but three articles on Edward Lear:

Adam Kendon’s “Edward Lear Painting Parrots” is a review of Robert McCracken Peck’s recent The Natural History of Edward Lear;

Ben Westwood’s “Lear and the Fool” reviews Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry, and

Barbara Everett’s “Better than Great: Good” is the text of a December 2016 “address given at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of London, at an event to mark the publication of Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry.”

This last concludes:

Edward Lear is surely better than great: he is good. He makes a brilliance or a radiance out of those who inhabit a kind of nonsensical underside of society, the defeated from birth, still capable of flight…, the lonely who can write, all the loving-unloved, the cats with half a tail.

Unfortunately all these essays are available only to subscribers.

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Edward Lear 1857 by William Holman Hunt © Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

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Edward Lear Letters under the Hammer

Several letters by Edward Lear were auctioned last September at Forum Auctions. I would be interested in knowing where they ended up, especially the two containing nonsense and pictures.

One from 1848 to Charles Church on their travels in Greece and Albania:

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Lot 435
Letters.- Lear (Edward)Autograph Letter to Charles Church, 3pp., folio, Preveza, 10th November 1848, to his travelling companion in Albania and Greece, sketches, monasteries, his servant Giorgio etc.; and a shaken and worn copy of Lear’s “Journal of a Landscape painter in Albania & Illyria”, 20 lithographed plates, foxed and browned, 1851, folio & 8vo (2).
Lear (Edward, landscape painter and writer, 1812-88) Long Autograph Letter signed to Charles Church, 3pp., folio, Prévyza [Preveza, Greece], 10th November 1848, to his travelling companion in Albania and Greece, “O you vagabond… you been arunning about Mashydonia & Epirus, & I not able to catch you? However I hope still to find you obligd to come into Quarantine before I get out of it [in Santa Maura]”, reminding him of their plan to travel independently, “I long to see what sketches you have made. As for me – I have got 219 – bad & good… I could not hold a pencil for cold when at Janina [Ioannina]”, and monasteries in Albania/Greece and elsewhere he has visited, “Resnè [Resen], Ochrida (charming), Tiranna, Scutari, asking Church if he can travel to Egypt and Sinai and his servant Giorgio Kokali [Lear’s servant for twenty-five years, d. August 1883], “I have been most fortunate in my man Giorgio… had no fault to find with him in 2 months, his health, money etc.,folds, slightly creased and browned; and a copy of Lear’s Journal of a landscape Painter in Albania and Illyria, 20 tinted lithographed plates, foxed and browned, contents shaken and working loose, original blind-stamped cloth, edges rubbed, corners bumped, gilt spine, chipped at head with loss, 1851, folio & 8vo (2).
⁂ A fine letter chronicling Lear’s travels in Albania and Greece with his friend Charles Church.
There is “luxury and inconvenience on the one hand, liberty, hard living and filth on the other.” – Edward Lear on Albania.

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Lot 436
Lear (Edward), Autograph Letter third person to Mrs Bond, 1p., sm. 8vo, 65 Oxford Terrace, Hyde park, [1859], thanking her for a letter and postal order order for 8 shillings and telling her that “the set of songs was sent yesterday…”, written on verso of the advert for “Songs and Poemsby Alfred Tennyson set to music…”, folds, slightly creased and browned; and 2 others, comprising another ALs by Lear, torn and repaired with tape, 1881, and a cut signature of Lear, v.s., v.d. (3).
Lear (Edward, landscape painter and writer, 1812-88) Autograph Letter third person to Mrs Bond, 1p., sm. 8vo, 65 Oxford Terrace, Hyde Park, [1859], thanking her for a letter and postal order for 8 shillings, telling her that “the set of songs was sent yesterday…”, but that he wishes he had kept them until he heard from her as he is worried about their safe arrival, written on verso of the advert for Poem and Songs by Alfred Tennyson…, small hole along folds, slightly creased and browned; and 2 others, comprising another ALs by Lear,torn and repaired with tape, 1881, and a cut signature of Lear’s, v.s., v.d. (3 pieces).

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Lot 437
Letters.- Lear (Edward)2 part Autograph Letters to lady Wyatt, 4pp., 8vo, Southwold, 8th September 1869, & n.p., n.d., 2 parts of Nonsense Letters with 2 small pen and ink drawings, folds, some slight marking and browning.

Lear (Edward, landscape painter and writer, 1812-88) 2 part Autograph Letters to Lady Wyatt, 4pp., 8vo, Southwold, 8th September 1869 & n.p. & n.d., 2 parts of “Nonsense” letters with 2 small pen and ink drawings, “All at once the 183 little dogs by a Nimpulse, swam across the swollen flood, warbling in chorus the beautiful words of the poet, ‘Flow down cold revulet to the sea’ – &c &c, – till on reaching the 74 calves they seized their noses, ears, & tails, and… dragged the whole party to the shingly banks of the shore opposite where their almost despairing parients, cowed by their recent affliction and bullied by the impendious oxident which had occurred, were heiferlastingly stamping in the melancholy mud”, tipped-in on card mounts, folds, some slight marking and browning.
⁂ Mary Wyatt (d. 1894), daughter of Iltyd Nicholl of Ham, Glamorgan, wife of Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt (1820-1877), architect and writer on art. Secretary to the executive committee of the Great Exhibition in 1851 and later, first Slade Professor of Fine Arts in Cambridge.

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Lot 438
Letters.- Lear (Edward)Autograph letter to Lady Wyatt, together 7pp., 8vo, Pervillium Otel [Pavilion Hotel], Phoaxtn [Folkestone], 9th December 1869 & Maison Guichard, Cannes, 15th January 1870, referring to subscriptions for one of his books, asking her if she has received a copy of the book he has sent her [Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica], small pen and ink drawing of a dog and a pig facing each other, last f. margin torn torn and crudely repaired with tape slightly affecting a few letters, folds, aslightly browned (2).
Lear (Edward, landscape painter and writer, 1812-88) 2 Autograph Letters signed to Lady Wyatt, together 7pp., 8vo, Pervillium Otel [Pavilion Hotel], Phoaxtn [Folkestone], 9th December 1869 & Maison Guichârd, Cannes, 15th January 1870, referring to subscriptions for one of his books, “all who see the book seem delighted with it, & really hope it may be a success… I shall now write for 23 months to produce a work wh. will certainly give gt pleasure & instruction to a heap of people”, asking her if “you have got my book & how you like it” [?Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica], reporting on his work, “I am hard at work on 2 5 feet pictures of Bavella & Valdoniello. No drawings sold, nor likely to be: nobody of the faintest taste at Cannes: Belgravia idlers – who make calls & go church daily”, and a domestic disaster, “Took in all my winter stock of wine: shelves bust – 80 bottles simultaneously squashed”, and with a small pen and ink drawing of a dog and a pig facing each other, last f. margin torn and crudely repaired with tape slightly affecting a few letters, folds, slightly browned (2).

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Lot 439
Letters.- Lear (Edward), 2 Autograph Letters (1letter part only) to Lady Wyatt, not signed, 1874, 6pp., 8vo, Bengal, 24th January & 9th June 1874, from India, with some “Nonsense”, Matthew Digtby Wyatt’s health and travelling in India, folds; and a cut signature of Matthew Digby Wyatt, 8vo (3).
Lear (Edward, landscape painter and writer, 1812-88) 2 Autograph Letters (1 letter part only) to Lady Wyatt, not signed, 6pp., 8vo, Bengal, 24th January & 9th June 1874, from India, with some “Nonsense”, “No, I never rode on a Nelephant, & never intend to if I can avoid it – their trunkx frighten me so horridly”, the health of Matthew Digby Wyatt, “A day or two back I saw in an English paper that Digby had resigned his place as architect to the India House: – I hope this is from no increase of ill health, but merely a precautionary step towards avoiding overwork”, and a description of his travels, “Lucknow is always cold in the winter – abominably so… I went for 10 days walk to Narkanda near Thibet, but the vallies were too enormous & Swiss to please me, – the depths of pine too monstrous:- moreover the paths were simply terrible”, folds, slightly browned; and a cut signature of Matthew Digby Wyatt, v.s., v.d. (3).

The whole catalogue for the auction: Fine Books and Works on Paper, London 22 September 2016, is available for download in pdf format.

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Two on Edward Lear

A review of Robert Peck’s new book on Edward Lear’s natural history drawings, from last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:

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John Cremona, “Edward Lear in Gozo in 1866,” The Gozo Observer – Issue 33, Winter 2016 (pdf download).

Also of interest, if you read German:Marika Backes-Natsvlishvili, “Nonsens-Literatur zwischen Dekonstriktion und Innovation.” Vergleichen an der Grenze: Beiträge zu Manfred Schmelings komparatistischen Forschungen. Eds. Backe, Hans-Joachim, Claudia Schmitt and Christiane Solte-Gresser. Würtzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. 75-85.

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Edward Lear, Nave of Arundel Church

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“Nave of Arundel Church,” from M.A. Tierney, The History and Antiquities of the Castle and Town of Arundel: Including the Biography of Its Earls, from the Conquest to the Present Time. London: G. And W. Nicol, 1834. Volume 2, facing p. 743.

This is perhaps Edward Lear’s first published non-zoological illustration; he must have made it during one of his frequent visits to Arundel, where his sister Sarah had married and where he met some of his first supporters.

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Edward Lear, Stylida (1848)

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Edward Lear, Stylida, Greece.

Inscribed and dated twice ‘Stylida/26.June.1848’ (lower left and in pencil lower right), also inscribed ‘(84)’ (lower right) with further annotations throughout. Pen and ink and watercolour. 14 x 23.2cm (5 1/2 x 9 1/8in).

Provenance
Lieutenant Colonel C.J.B. Church

Exhibited
Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Edward Lear, July 1964, no. 84.

Lt. Col. Church was the grandson of Charles Marcus Church who was Edward Lear’s companion during his earliest travels in Greece in 1848. The two men remained friends until Lear’s death in 1888. Upon his death, Lear bequeathed Charles Church more than 100 sketches made in Greece while they were together.

Bonhams.

Edward Lear’s diary of the journey in Greece with Church.

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