Ye Great Meyerbeer

“Ye great Meyerbeer — as seen at Spa in ye summer of 1856.”

The label on the back of the picture attributes this to Edward Lear, and actually the drawing style — while a little too “finished” — is not dissimilar: the handwriting however does not look like his.

The auction house prudently chooses to attribute this to a “follower of Edward Lear.”

The label reads:

Edward Lear (1812-1888)
“Ye great Meyerbeer, as seen at Spa in ye summer of 1856”
(A caricature of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864) riding a donkey)
Pen and ink on paper
17cm x 11.2 cm

Provenance: From a Prescott / Decie family album (by repute)

From 1829 to 1860, with few exceptions, the famous German maestro Giacomi Meyerbeer passed the summer months at the popular resort town of Spa in Belgium. Every afternoon at six o’clock he went for a donkey ride. During the 1850s the loyal donkey tender who supervised his daily outings was Henri Dedoyard. These excursions became a part of localfolklore and also the subject of a poem written by Émile Frossard entitled “L’âne de Neyerbeer” (“Meyerbeer’s donkey”).

Lear may have observed this spectacle, which would undoubtedly have appealed to his sense of the absurd, whilst en route to or from Ionia in 1856/57 or may have been provided wieth a description pf the scene by his elder sister Ann (1791-1861), who was based in Belgium at this time.

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Call for Papers

Jasmine Jagger,co-editor with Matthew Bevis of the Knowing Edward Lear Project, and curator of the Learical Tennyson online exhibition, informs me that there will be a special issue of Victorian Poetry devoted to Edward Lear in 2020. Here is the CFP:

CFP: Special issue of ‘Victorian Poetry’: ‘New Work on Edward Lear’

The guest editors, Jasmine Jagger and Benjamin Westwood, are seeking submissions for a special issue of ‘Victorian Poetry’ devoted to new work on Edward Lear, which will appear in summer 2020.

Lear studies is in the middle of a lively and substantive revival, following a steady sequence of publications on diverse aspects of his work – even in the last two years. The first collection of essays dedicated to Lear’s poetry (‘Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry’, co-edited by James Williams and Matthew Bevis) appeared with OUP in 2016. A major study of his natural history (Robert McCracken Peck, ‘The Natural History of Edward Lear’) was published in the same year. And, in 2017, Jenny Uglow’s major new biography appeared with Faber (‘Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense’). There is, at the moment, considerable and renewed critical interest in Lear as a poet and artist in his own right. This is also evident in a number of recent articles and doctoral dissertations, as well as forthcoming monographs and essay collections.

The editors are particularly keen to solicit submissions regarding:

Lear and affect
Lear’s poetics
Lear’s visual art
Lear’s travel writing
Lear and other writers

Essays should be 5,000 words in length, and should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. Please send abstracts only, of around 250 words, by 16 September 2018. The final deadline for essays will be September 2019. All submissions and enquiries should be directed to benjamin.westwood (at) ell (dot) ox (dot) ac (dot) uk and jasmine.jagger (at) ell (dot) ox (dot) ac (dot) uk.

In other news: The New York Review of Books for 7 June has a long review by Kathryn Hughes of Jenny Uglow’s Mr Lear; unfortunately, you will need to be subscribed to read it.

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Edward Lear, Mt. Etna from near Carlentini (1852)

Edward Lear, Mt. Etna from near Carlentini.
Pen and ink, signed, titled and dated 1852, 23cm x 28.5cm.

The Saleroom.

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Edward Lear, The Plains of Marathon

Edward Lear, The Plains of Marathon, Greece.
Signed lower left with monogram “EL” watercolour 10 x 20cm (4 x 8in).

Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge, London SW7.

The Saleroom.

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Edward Lear, Bissone (1878)

Edward Lear, View of Bissone, Lake Lugano, Switzerland.
Inscribed with title, colour notes and dated “10.15 to 11 a.m. / 17 August 1878” lower left pen, brown ink and blue wash 31 x 51cm (12 x 20in).

Michael Spratt, English Watercolours, Kingfishers, East Shalford Lane, Guildford, Surrey, where purchased by the vendor.

The present drawing dates from the holiday which Edward Lear took at Monte Generoso, above Lake Lugano, with his old servant, Giorgio Kokali. The latter had been ill, and the visit was at least partly intended as convalescence for him (see Vivien Noakes, “Edward Lear, the Life of a Wanderer, London, 1968).

The Saleroom.

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Nonsense!” – Words from Edward Lear, music by Mel Orriss

Festive Flutes and Mel Orriss perform six of Lear’s limericks set to music.

Also, form the same event (I suppose):

Festive Flutes and Mel Orriss perform “The House That Jack Built” at Cedars Hall, Wells, 4th February 2018.

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Lecture and an Auction

If you have $15,000-20,000 you do not know how to spend, you might want to buy the FIRST VOLUME only of Edward lear’s original 1846 Book of Nonsense:

If you can’t afford it, at least watch this extremely interesting lecture by Matthew Bevis, Edward Lear’s Vision, or here if you prefer to get it from iTunes together with his and Jasmine Jagger’s previous podcasts. Matt here explores the remarkable interconnections between Lear’s nonsense and his painting; also included are some surprising discoveries about Edward Lear’s indebtedness to Thomas Rowlandson in one of his picture stories. Don’t miss this!


Here is the auction description for the Book of Nonsense from Christie’s website:

LEAR, Edward (1812-1888). A Book of Nonsense. Derry Down Derry. London: Thomas McLean, 1846.
The rare first edition of Lear’s classic book of children’s verse. The Manney copy. This work popularized the limerick, although it was not yet known by that name, as a humorous form of verse. Lear recalled in 1871: “the lines beginning There was an Old Man of Tobago were suggested to me by a valued friend, as a form of verse lending itself to limitless variety for Rhymes and Pictures” (Noakes). Three limericks present here were omitted from later editions, and have been published only in recent reprints. According to ABPC, only three complete copies of this book have sold at auction in the last thirty years. Noakes 72(c); Schiller Nonsensus(1988) passim, census no. 22.
Volume one only (of 2), octavo (141 x 210mm). 37 lithographed leaves, printed on rectos only (some foxing, some marginal repairs).Original lithographed pictorial boards (skillfully rebacked in red morocco, rubbed, corners retouched); blue quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: Edgar S. Oppenheimer (d.1958, his sale Sotheby’s Hodgsons, 21-22 October 1976, lot 1527) – Justin G. Schiller (bookplate) – Richard Manney (bookplate; his sale Sotheby’s New York, 11 October 1991, lot 202).

Posted in Edward Lear | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment