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Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Arab Encampment in Wadi Feiran, Egypt

Edward Lear (1812-1888)
Arab Encampment in Wadi Feiran, Egypt
signed with monogram (lower left)
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour with scratching out
6 7/8 x 14¾ in. (17.6 x 37.5 cm.)
with Agnew's, London.
with Mathaf Gallery, London.
Sotheby's, London, 13 July 1995, lot 151.
Christie's, New York, 12 April 2007, lot 51.
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Lot Essay

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.

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