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Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

The Pineta, Ravenna

signed with monogram and signed, inscribed and dated 'The Pineta, Ravenna/Painted by me from drawings made on the/spot 1866/Edward Lear 1872/Charles S. Roundell Esq. 63 Cromwell Road. Stanhope Gardens/Frances Countess Waldegrave. 7 Carlton Gardens, Pall Mall' on an old label on the reverse; oil on canvas
9¼ x 18 3/8in. (23.5 x 46.7cm.)
Probably brought from the artist by Charles S. Roundell, MP, and thence by descent to the present owner
Lady Strachey (ed.), Letters of Edward Lear ... to Chichester Fortescue ... and Frances, Countess Waldegrave, 1907, p.318, no.249 (as 'Ravenna Forest', belonging to Charles S. Roundell)

Lot Essay

Unless Lear visited Ravenna when returning to England from Malta in the spring of 1866, then the drawings to which he refers on the label on the back of the picture must have been made the following year when, accompanied by his Suliot manservant Giorgio Kokali, he visited Italy on the way home after a second visit to Palestine (for the first, see previous lot). Vivien Noakes describes the journey as follows: 'It was too early in the year to go to England so they went by boat to Brindisi, and for a month wandered quietly along the coast. They saw the Forest of Ravenna where Byron had lived, then travelled to Rimini before turning back to the Lombardy Lakes. At the beginning of June Giorgio left for Corfu and Lear returned to England' (Edward Lear: The Life of a Wanderer, 1968, p.218). A 'Ravenna forest' drawing was given by Lear to Mrs Stuart-Wortley in San Remo in February 1881 (ibid., p.293, and Vivien Noakes (ed.), Edward Lear: Selected Letters, 1988, p.257).

The reference to Frances, Countess Waldegrave, on the label on the back is enigmatic, but may well imply that she was involved in the commission. This would not be in the least surprising since she was one of Lear's staunchest patrons. His letters to her are published in the book cited under 'Literature' above, and Vivien Noakes gives an account of their relationship in her biography. Lady Waldegrave also features in the account of Lear's picture of Damascus in this sale. (lot 173).

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