Edward Lear Biography | Oil Paintings

5-12-1812 Middlesex, ENG - 1-29-1888 Liguria, ITA

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Lear, Edward

Edward Lear was born the second to last of twenty-one children into a working-class family. He was raised by his eldest sister, twenty-one years his senior. Due to the family's limited finances of having to house and feed twenty-three people, Lear, when he was four years old and his sister were asked to leave the house and she had to take care of him. Ann loved Edward and acted as a mother to him until her death when he was almost 50 years old.

Edward Lear had lifelong health problems, starting at age six he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, bronchitis, and asthma, Lear felt a deep rooted blame and disgrace for his epileptic condition. When Edward Lear was eight years old, due to the unsteadiness of his childhood, not seeing his mom and dad, and his bad health problems, these all combined to causes the beginning signs of depression. He suffered from periods of extreme melancholia which he referred to as "the Morbids."

Edward Lear was already drawing by the time he was sixteen years old for his daily meals and soon developed into a serious ornithological draftsman and was employed by the Zoological Society and after that from 1832 to 1836 by the Earl of Derby, who kept a private zoo at his estate. Lear's first publication, published when he was 19 years old, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae Parrots in 1830.

He visited Greece and Egypt during 1848 -1849 and visited India and Ceylon for three years between 1873 to 1875. While traveling he created large quantities of colored wash drawings in a distinctive style, which he used when he returned to England paint watercolor and oil paintings in his studio, and to be used as prints for his books.

Lear's most intense and agonizing friendship involved Franklin Lushington, a young lawyer he met during his travels to Malta in 1849 and afterward they visited southern Greece together. Lear had a homosexual passion for him that Lushington did not appreciate, yet, they were able to remain friends for almost forty years, until Lear's death. Lear having repressed homosexual tendencies in a Victorian England, made it difficult for him to have male friendships. To keep up appearances, he did propose marriage to a girl, twice, and was refused twice, because both times it was to the same girl and she was forty-six years younger than him. For an age comparisons, when Edward Lear was sixty-five with partial blindness, she would be nineteen.

He had a lifelong dream to illustrate Tennyson's poems and near the end of his life, a volume with a small number of his illustrations was published. One of the greatest ornithological artists of his era, he contributed to John Gould's works and was compared with the naturalist John James Audubon.

Besides being an artist and illustrator, Lear was a musician, he played the accordion, flute, guitar, and the piano and composed music. He was also a writer of children's books and a poet and in 1846 Lear published his first book, A Book Of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularize the form and the genre of literary nonsense.

Edward Lear's memorial service was miserable, lonely affair, none of Lear's many lifelong friends being able to attend.

Art Movement: Realism.
He Traveled To Greece, Egypt, India, Ceylon, Italy.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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