Edward Lear ( British artist, illustrator, author and poet) 1812 - 1888Kom Ombos, Egypt, 1856oil on canvas 25.4 x 39.3 cm. (10 x 15.5 in.)signed with monogram (lower right) and indistinctly inscribed and dated 'Ombos 1856' (lower left)
Catalogue Note Christie's
Lear had settled back in London during the 50's and became friends with the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Holman Hunt. He and Hunt decided to make a trip together to the Middle East, and on 6 December 1853, Lear set out on his own, with Hunt due to follow later. Lear returned to London the following year with a collection of drawings made on the trip. A watercolour of exactly the same view of the Kom Ombos Temple dated February 1854 exists, so the present oil must have been painted after his return to London and based on the watercolour. In 1848 Lear met Thomas Baring, later Earl of Northbrook, in Rome, and he became one of Lear's closest friends for the rest of his life.
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Lear is known now mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularised. His principal areas of work as an artist were threefold: as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals; making coloured drawings during his journeys, which he reworked later, sometimes as plates for his travel books; as a (minor) illustrator of Alfred Tennyson's poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense works, which use real and invented English words.
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