Edward Lear The Fortress of San George, near Argostoli, Cephalonia 1848

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Artwork details

Artist
Edward Lear 1812–1888
Title
The Fortress of San George, near Argostoli, Cephalonia
Date 1848
Medium Graphite and ink on paper
Dimensions Support: 356 x 508 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by Denzil Young in accordance with the wishes of his late sister Miss Monica Young 1985
Reference
T03939
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Catalogue entry

Edward Lear 1812-1888

T03939 The Fortress of San George, near Argostoli, Cephalonia 1848

Pencil, pen and brown ink on greenish-grey paper 356 x 508 (14 x 20)
Inscribed in pencil 'May 5. 1848' lower left and '44' lower right, with numerous pencilled annotations throughout, some keyed to a table on the left (see below); '108 | longwise alone | Cefalonia' in pencil on the back
Presented by Denzil Young in accordance with the wishes of his late sister Miss Monica Young 1985
Prov: ...; bought from a Roehampton dealer by Monica Young c.1939

This was sketched on Lear's visit to the Ionian Islands during his first trip to Greece in 1848. Drawn on the spot, and amply annotated, drawings such as this (of which he might make five or six during one day) could later, if desired, be penned out and coloured in the studio, though no finished drawing of this subject is known. Other subjects in Cephalonia drawn by Lear in 1848 include views of Samos, Argostoli and Assos (Harvard College Library; information kindly communicated by Fani-Maria Tsigakou); these three subjects are among the twenty lithographs which Lear published in 1863 as Views in the Seven Ionian Islands. Lear's notes on Cephalonia in the text of that volume describe its landscape as 'rather of a gloomy and severe nature, wanting in details of elegance, though here and there it can boast of points of great interest and grandeur'; he describes the countryside in characteristic phrases which make his nonsense verse seem not so very different from reality: gray rocks, where the lentisk grows and the broad-leaved squill abounds'.

Lear's annotations to this drawing include a system of numbers linked to the following key: 'a. deep blue sea | b. Lixuri - long scattered light | c. spots capitol hill | D. Hills above Argostoli, olive ground & earth & villas | e. long bare olivaried hills | f. village g. bare gray hills olive dots h. white sand | I meadow, somefew buildings | & olive trees'. Other memoranda suggest a readiness to meet the wishes of a possible patron, e.g. 'aloes if you like to any amount' and 'procession', here indicated by a single figure.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, p.73

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