Edward Lear (London 1812–1888 San Remo)
Edward Lear (London 1812–1888 San Remo)


Edward Lear (London 1812–1888 San Remo)
signed with monogram 'EL' and inscribed and dated 'JCS/1865' (lower right)
graphite, watercolor and bodycolor
6 7/8 x 9 in. (17.6 x 24.8 cm)
Catherine Symonds, a gift from the artist and by descent to
Dame Janet Vaughan.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 13 November 1980, lot 175.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 14 July 1998, lot 94.
London, Gooden and Fox, Edward Lear 1812-1888, 1968, no. 75, pl. IX.

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Lot Essay

This drawing relates to another finished watercolor, formerly in the collections of John Addington Symonds, Dame Janet Vaughan and Miss W.W. Vaughan, which is signed with Lear's monogram and dated both '1858' and '1862'. The first date presumably refers to the year of Lear's visit to the Holy Land; he was at Jericho on 7 May 1858 after stopping in Jerusalem following his stay at Petra in late April (see V. Noakes, Edward Lear, 1812-1888, ex. cat., London, Royal Academy, 1985, p. 110, no. 25e).

The inscription ‘JCS 1865’ seems to relate to the date which he gave the drawing to (Janet) Catherine Symonds, who gave birth to her first child, also Janet, in that year. Lear had known Mrs. Symonds since she herself had been a child and had been a regular visitor at her father's house (Frederick North, MP for Hastings), so it is quite possible that he gave her this watercolor to mark the occasion of the birth of her first child. Catherine married the poet and author John Addington Symonds on 10 November 1864 and Janet was born on 22 October 1865. Why the family possessed two versions of the subject remains a matter for speculation: it is possible that the two works were kept in different houses. Owing to the ill health of both Mr. Symonds and his daughter Janet, the family lived abroad a great deal including a period when they rented Lear's house, the Villa Emily, in San Remo, Italy. Lear remained a close friend of the Symonds family and his first and perhaps most famous nonsense song, The Owl and the Pussycat, was written for Janet Symonds.

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