Edward Lear (1812-1888)

The Vast Akrokeraunian Walls; The Coast of Albania

signed with monogram and signed 'E. Lear' on an old label on the reverse; oil on canvas, in original frame
26 x 54 1/8in. (66 x 137.5cm.)
Lord Derby; Sotheby's, 4 December 1957, lot 119
With Thomas Agnew & Sons, London
With Owen Edgar Gallery, London
R. Pitman, Edward Lear's Tennyson, 1988, p.29
London, The Fine Art Society, Edward Lear, A Centenary Exhibition, 1988 (not in catalogue)

Lot Essay

This was one of five oil paintings under way in the first half of the 1870s when it was listed by Lear, with joking annotations, under the title 'Walls' (Pitman, loc. cit.). The title The Vast Akrokeraunian Walls derives from Tennyson's poem 'To E.L. on his Travels in Greece" which was illustrated by Lear with another version of the composition (Pitman, op.cit., pp.146-8, Lear's no. 109, repr.).

Tennyson's verses had in fact been partly inspired by Lear's Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania, Illyria, etc., published in 1851, in which Lear described his visit to Albania in the autumn of 1848 (he was there again in spring 1849 and April 1857). From 21 until 28 October he spent an arduous week on horseback among the Akrokeraunian Mountains, and his account includes a description of the snow-capped Mount Tchika.

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