Edward Lear

The Capitol, from the Forum


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Edward Lear 1812–1888
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 216 × 305 mm
Presented by the Earl of Northbrook 1910

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Edward Lear was perhaps the last of the great topographers. He called his watercolours and oils his ‘topographies’. Between trips Lear lived mostly in Italy, and spent his last seventeen years on the Riviera at San Remo, where he died.

He wrote from Rome to his sister Ann, in May 1838, around the time this work was painted: ‘every now and then you see bits of ancient villas – all that is left of once vast buildings – now only a few arches with the curious Roman brick work – covered with large aloes – or roofs of olives.’

Gallery label, August 2004

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