Lear’s Pictures

Lear is remembered as humorist, zoological draughtsman, poet and musician, but perhaps his greatest works are his beautifully-observed landscape drawings and watercolours. He began his career at the age of sixteen, drawing animals and birds in the London Zoo. After 1837 he made his living as a landscape painter, travelling throughout Europe and as far afield as India in search of new places to draw.

The Landscape Artist in Greece

Lear’s journey with Charles Church in 1848 was his first visit to Greece; he later settled in Corfu and travelled widely in what is now Greece: his “polygraphic Hellenic proclivities” were to produce approximately 3,000 Greek drawings.

Lear’s Method

Lear sketched swiftly on the spot, scribbling notes on his preliminary drawings and numbering them; later, indoors, he would ‘pen out’, inking over his pencil outlines and adding colour wash. The sketches could then be worked up as finished “studio” watercolours or more ambitious oil paintings, for exhibition and sale.

Pictures from the 1848 Trip

Lear’s numbered series runs from 1 to 143A, with a few unnumbered figure and flower drawings. We know the present whereabouts of only 51 of the numbered series, though others are well documented from sale and exhibition catalogues. Throughout his life Lear continued to work from his original drawings; we have identified eleven studio watercolours and three oil paintings. Oil was used for the most “famous” scenes: Marathon and Thermopylae, of which there is an example below.

Edward Lear, Thermopylae, 1872
WA1997.14, Reproduced by kind permission of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The Numbered Series

Below we have drawn together the pictures from Lear’s numbered series. They are displayed in the order given by Lear, according to his running numbers, displayed above each image.

Number 4 – Athens: Hephaisteion

Edward Lear, Athens: Hephaisteion, 5/6 June 1848
TypDr805.L513 48f, reproduced by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University

Number 6 – Athens

Edward Lear, Athens, 5, 6 & 7 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 7 – Athens, the Acropolis

Edward Lear, Athens, the Acropolis, 5-6 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 8 – Athens

Edward Lear, Athens, 5,6 & 7 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 10 – Athens, the Hephaistion from the Acropolis

Edward Lear, Athens: [Hephaisteion from the Acropolis]
TypDr 805.L513.48a, reproduced by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University

Number 12 – Athens, Temple of Minerva

Edward Lear, Athens, Temple of Minerva, 5 & 8 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 13 – Athens, Temple of Nike Apteros

Edward Lear, Athens, Temple of Nike Apteros, 5, 6 & 12 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 19 – Athens

Edward Lear, Athens, 8 June 1848
B1990.28.5, Yale Center for British Art, Gift of George E. Dix, B.A. 1934, M.A. 1942

Number 23 – Athens from Mount Lycabettus

Edward Lear, Athens from Mount Lycabettus, 12 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 26 – Athens

Edward Lear, Athens, 12 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 27 – Athens

Edward Lear, Athens, 12 June 1848
VIS4487, reproduced by kind permission of Museums Sheffield

Number 28 – Athens, Royal Palace

Edward Lear, Athens Royal Palace, 12 June 1848
VIS4486, reproduced by kind permission of Museums Sheffield

Number 32 – Marathon

Edward Lear, Marathon, 15 June 1848
VIS4489, reproduced by kind permission of Museums Sheffield

Number 36 – Marathon

Edward Lear, Marathon, 16 June 1848
VIS4489, reproduced by kind permission of Museums Sheffield

Number 43 – Vathy, near Chalcis

Edward Lear, Vathy near Chalkis, 17 June 1848
VIS4483, reproduced by kind permission of Museums Sheffield

Number 57 – Near Kymi

Edward Lear, Between Avlona and Kymi, A Plain and Mountain Gorge, 20 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 59 – Near Kymi

Edward Lear, Near Kymi, 21 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 61 – Vrisi on the island of Euboea

Edward Lear, Vrisi on the island of Euboea, 21 June 1848
VIS4491, reproduced by kind permission of Museums Sheffield

Number 62 – Mount Dirphys

Edward Lear, Mount Dirphys, 21 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 66 – Between Chalkis and Castella

Edward Lear, Between Khalkis and Castella, 22 June 1848
TypDr 805.L513.48g , reproduced by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University

Number 67 – Castella

Edward Lear, Castella, 22 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 71 – Near Achmèt Agà

Edward Lear, Near Achmèt Agà, 23 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 72 – In the Pine Forests near Achmèt Agà

Edward Lear, In the Pine Forests near Achmèt Agà, 23 June 1848
Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Anonymous gift, 2010.16.4

Number 78 – Near Achmèt Agà

Edward Lear, Near Achmèt Agà, 24 June 1848
The Noel-Baker Family Papers, reproduced by kind permission of the Noel-Baker Family and the British School at Athens

Number 81 – Near Kokinamelia

Edward Lear, Near Kokinamelia, 24 June 1848
VIS4488, reproduced by kind permisssion of Museums Sheffield

Number 82 – Forest, Sea and Mountains, Kokinamelia

Edward Lear, Forest, Sea and Mountains, Kokinamelia, 25 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 84 – Stylida

Edward Lear, Stylida, 26 June 1848
Copyright © Bonhams 1793 Ltd

Number 86B – Lamia

Edward Lear, Lamia, 28 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 92 – Lamia

Edward Lear, Lamia, 27 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 93 – Mountains of Katabothra

Edward Lear, Mountains of Katabothra near Lamia, 29 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 95 – Neopatra

Edward Lear, Neopatra (Patradgik), 29 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 96 – Patradgik, Mountain Village

Edward Lear, Patradgik, Mountain Village, 29 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 99 – Zeitum (Lamia)

Edward Lear, Zeitum (Lamia), 30 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 100 – Spercheius

Edward Lear, Spercheius, 29 June 1848
Photography by Erik Gould, courtesy of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.

Number 103 – Thermopylae Hot Springs

Edward Lear, Thermopylae Hot Springs under Mount Kallidromos, undated
Private Collection

Number 104 – Thermopylae

Edward Lear, Thermopylae, 30 June 1848
TypDr 805.L513.48e, by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University

Number 105 – Near Vodonitza

Edward Lear, Near Vodonitza, 30 June 1848
Private Collection

Number 115 – Thebes and Cithaeron

Edward Lear, Thebes and Cithaeron, 3 July 1848
Private Collection

Number 116 – Near Thebes

Edward Lear, Near Thebes, July 1848
Private Collection

Number 117 – Thebes

Edward Lear, Thebes, 4 July 1848
Private Collection

Number 118 – Thebes, Thiva

Edward Lear, Thebes, 4 July 1848
Private Collection

Number 123 – Plataea

Edward Lear, Plataea, 5 July 1848
Private Collection

Number 124 – Plataea, Shepherds resting on ruins

Edward Lear, Plataea, Shepherds resting on ruins, 5 July 1848
Private Collection

Number 127 – Athens, road to Carra

Edward Lear, Athens, 23 July 1848
TypDr 805.L513.48z, reproduced by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard

Number 131 – The Temple of Hephaestus

Edward Lear, The Temple of Hephaestus, 26 July 1848
Private Collection

Number 143A – Kara

Edward Lear, Kara, July 1848
MS Typ 55.26 (469), Reproduced by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University

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