Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The British author and illustrator Edward Lear was born on May 12 or 13, 1812. ( I was having trouble finding an American artist with a May birthday whom I had not previously featured.)

 I thought I knew all about Lear. He was the creator of those clever limericks
and silly illustrations. Right?

To my amazement, I discovered that Lear was also a very serious artist/illustrator of birds. In fact, he was "one of the greatest ornithologists of his time" and his work was published in bird books, and compared favorably with the American James Audubon.
His images of other creatures, created as illustrations for books and for prints,

are equally masterful.

But there is even more. Lear was an accomplished landscape painter...
...drawing his subject matter from sites and scenes he saw and sketched during his many travels.

His paintings are skillful, competent,  and hold their own with any painter of this genre and style.

But it was when I looked at some of the sketches Lear created during his travels...
...sketches which he would use as reference for the paintings he composed once he was back in his studio...

...then I got a glimpse of the real genius of this artist.
Captured in just a few lines, with quick washes and strokes of color, sketches are an artist's most intimate and personal expression.They also are the clearest indication of a visual artist's ability and skill.
Edward Lear: landscape painter, "the British James Audubon", musician, composer, traveler and observer. And by the way, an author and illustrator of nonsense. When I see one of his delightfully silly and quirky images, I now have a completely different understanding of the artist behind them.





  1. Wow! Thank you so much for shining a light on the many gifts of Lear. I had no idea. What a wonderful post.

  2. One of my Great Favorites!!!

  3. Another of the occasional art history courses I manage to get from pros. Thanks, Wendy. The depth, detail, and finesse of Lear's work is intellectually and emotionally engaging

  4. Fascinating and inspiring! Thanks for giving us a very different view of this artist. I had no idea he was a man of so many talents and interests.

    1. I often learn that an artist has more talents than I had realized. Lear is especially gifted that way.