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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Edward Lear (1812-1888), Artist and author of 'A Book of Nonsense'

By other artists
Posthumous portraits

Self-portraitsback to top

The self-portraiture is vast and all caricatural with an exception in 1866. See NPG 4351 for an overview of the self-caricatures in public collections.

Pen and ink caricature on letter; see NPG 4351.

Pen and ink sketch based on carte-de-visite by McLean, Melhuish & Haes (see ‘Photographs, 1862’ below), illustrating episode on train; untraced. Repr. Lear 1872, title page; Strachey 1911a, p.79, letter to Lady Waldegrave, 17 Oct. 1866; and Noakes et al. 1985, contents page; see MEPL, London, 10039181. See also NPG 4351 for more details on this self-portrait.

By other artistsback to top

Silhouette by unidentified artist; see NPG 1759.

Pencil drawing by Wilhelm Nicolai Marstrand; see NPG 3055.

Crayon and chalk drawing by William Holman Hunt, 7 Nov. 1857, head-and-shoulders, slightly to right; Walker AG, Liverpool, WAG1251. It hung with other Hunt portraits of artist friends and was presented to the Walker by the artist in 1907. The drawing appears in the background of a sketch on a letter from Hunt to Lear, 7 Nov. 1859, coll. John Rylands UL, U. of Manchester, Eng.MS1214/28.[1]

Posthumous portraitsback to top

Oil on canvas by Humphrey Jennings, half-length, seated slightly to left, with book on knees; untraced; Christie’s, 12 July 2006 (201, ill.). See also a preparatory oil sketch dated 1948 (203, ill.) and two watercolour studies (202).

Etching by David Hockney, two figures under a tree; ed. of 50, publ. Associated American Artists, New York; print V&A, London, CIRc.137-1969. See also Sotheby’s, 12–13 Dec. 1991 (694, ill.).

Pen and ink caricature drawing by Nicholas Bentley, head-and-shoulders to right, at left hand side in row of framed portraits with Oscar Wilde and Algernon Charles Swinburne, stamped on verso for publication in Sunday Telegraph, c.1968; Peter Harrington Gallery, London. Exh. Nicolas Bentley Drew the Pictures, Peter Harrington Gallery, 2011 (2, ill.).

Struck bronze medal designed by Ronald Searle, obverse inscr. ‘E Lear’, full-face, with spectacles, bald head and thick beard with nesting birds; reverse inscr. ‘EDWARD LEAR 1812–1888 PERE DU NON-SENS’, owl and cat in a boat; issued by Monnaie de Paris.

Oil on canvas by Emo Verkerk; coll. Art & Project, Amsterdam.

Photographsback to top

Collotypes by unidentified photographer, Sept. 1857, two known poses:
(a) whole-length, head facing, seated to right with Chichester Fortescue, Red House, Ardee, Ireland; BBC Hulton Picture Library, London. Repr. Noakes et al. 1985, no.113; Chitty 1988, no.9; see Getty Images, 3090652.
(b) similar to (a), with head three-quarters to right. Repr. Edward Lear, Arts Council G., London, 1957, exh. cat. cover.

Cartes-de-visite by McLean, Melhuish & Haes, 27 Oct. 1862, two known poses:
(a) whole-length, standing by upholstered chair, left hand at waist; colls NPG Ax17831; Stileman (repr. Noakes et al. 1985, no.111a); Christie’s, 9 Nov. 1989 (373, ill.) with autograph letter.[2]
(b) half-length, seated to left; coll. F.W.H. Bedford (copyprint NPG Archive). This photograph was used for the 1866 self-portrait.

Cartes-de-visite by Ferret, Nice, France, winter, two known poses:
(a) whole-length, standing with book in right hand, wearing dark jacket, looped curtain to right. Repr. Strachey 1907.
(b) half-length, seated to left, holding book in both hands; coll. Stileman. Repr. Noakes et al. 1985, no.111b (p.8).
Another sitting to Ferret, whole-length, standing to right, in three-piece check suit and bowler hat, sketching, balustrade background; colls Stileman (repr. Noakes 1988, cover); and Noakes (repr. Levi 1995, cover).[3]

Carte-de-visite by Schier and Schoefft, Alexandria, Egypt, winter, two known poses:
(a) head-and-shoulders, three-quarters to right, check neckscarf, strap over right shoulder; NPG x8360.
(b) head-and-shoulders, full-face. Repr. Strachey 1911a, facing p.82.

Photograph by unidentified photographer, half-length, facing three-quarters to right, grizzly beard, little hair. Repr. Strachey 1911a, facing p.232.

Photograph by Roncarolo, San Remo, 28 Apr. 1887, at Villa Tennyson, half-length, seated to left, facing ahead; coll. Dept. of Printing and Graphic Arts, Houghton L., Harvard U. Repr. Lear 1888, frontispiece; Noakes et al. 1985, no.111c; Levi 1995, p.235; see Getty Images, 3292960. The last photograph of Lear.

1) Bennett 1988, pp.83–4; Bronkhurst 2006, D175 and App.A32.
2) ‘Dear Miss North, Here are two Photographs for your friend who likes my book of Nonsense. The standing figure is supposed to be saying “My name is [illegible],” etc & the head, (which is a compound of Socrates & Sir John Falstaff,) is so fat as to be a Bloatograph. But they are the only ones I have – although I hope you will impress upon the Lady that they ain’t half as ansom as I really am’: 19 July 1864. The letter was offered to the NPG and declined (offer no.P16/87). Thomas McLean was the publisher of Lear’s first Book of Nonsense (1846). In spite of his deprecatory remarks it seems Lear was relatively satisfied with the photographs.
3) A boy’s description of Lear in 1869 ties in with these photographs: ‘…a tall, heavily-built gentleman, with a large curly beard and wearing well-made but unusually loosely fitting clothes, and what at the time struck me most of all, very large, round spectacles’: Hubert Congreve, a young neighbour in San Remo, autumn 1869, publ. Strachey 1911a, pp.17–18.

Carol Blackett-Ord