Saturday, November 14, 2009

Edward Lear

[Arab Encampment in Wadi Feiran, Egypt]
Price Realized £45,650
signed with monogram (lower left)
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour with scratching out
6 7/8 x 14¾ in. (17.6 x 37.5 cm.)
On 23rd January 1849 Lear wrote to his sister Ann that 'After a long & tedious winding, we entered the great & beautiful Oasis - the centre of Wady Feiran - & the most wonderful & beautiful place I ever saw...But the great beauty of the place is that it is filled up with a forest of palmtrees, & that there is a running stream in the centre. I cannot describe the place, as my paper is short - but certainly the world contains not such another for loveliness' (V. Noakes, Edward Lear: Selected Letters, Oxford, 1988, p.104). Lear and his companions were travelling by camel, a mode of transport that Lear found quite challenging: 'As for the camels themselves - I cannot say much for them: they are quite harmless & quiet, but seem the most odious beasts - except when they are moving...I give my camel a bunch of green morning & evening - but all attempts at making friends are useless' (V. Noakes, op. cit., p. 99).

Wadi Feiran, the Sinai's largest oasis, is known as the 'Pearl of Sinai' for its beautiful scenery, and has traditionally been known as the place where Moses struck a rock with his staff, miraculously creating a spring that saved his people from thirst.

[View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, with figures in the foreground]
Price Realized £18,750
signed with monogram (lower right)
pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of white
9 5/8 x 18¼ in. (24.5 x 46.3 cm.)

Lear first visited Jerusalem in the Spring of 1858 arriving in Holy Week, having been given commissioned to paint the city by Lady Waldegrave. He went out each morning making preparatory sketches and wrote in his diary that he 'went up the Mount of Olives - every step bringing fresh beauty to the city uprising behind. At the top, by the Church of Ascension, the view is wonderfully beautiful indeed' (E. Lear, Diary, 28.iii.58). Lear visited Jerusalem again in 1867.

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