Edward Lear, Choropiskeros, Corfu, a watercolour with pen, ink and coloured chalks

AD 1856

A grand landscape from the nonsense poet

Better known as the author of nonsense verse and limericks, Edward Lear (1812-88) was a painter by profession. He began his artistic career illustrating a book of parrots in 1832, but soon turned to painting the landscapes that he saw on the travels that occupied most of his life. He produced thousands of lovely topographical views in this distinctive style to record his travels, and exhibited in both waterclour and oil at the Royal Academy when he returned to London.

Lear's usual technique was to sketch in pencil directly from nature, making written notes on colours, or the historical and mythological associations of a landscape. These summer travel sketches, which he called his 'topographies' would be worked up to a finished state with pen and wash on his return to the studio in the winter months.

Here the precision and colouring of the distant landscape show the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, whose style he attempted to emulate after meeting William Holman Hunt in 1852. The foreground, however, shows a free, bold handling in the manner of Turner, whose taste for the sublime in landscape he shared.

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More information


L. Stainton, British landscape watercolours (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

V. Noakes, Edward Lear, 1812-1888 (London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1985)


Height: 478.000 mm
Width: 349.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1929-6-11-70


Gift of Messrs Craddock and Barnard


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