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Edward Lear (1812-1888)


Inscribed with title, '91' 'all rox infinitely broken' and extensively with annotations, and dated 'Jany 21 4pm 1849'

Pen and ink with watercolour and bodycolour

12 x 19 ½ inches

'Chris Beetles Summer Show', Chris Beetles Gallery, 2019, No 41

Having been thinking about a trip to Egypt from early in 1848, Edward Lear arrived in Cairo in January 1849. There he met his old friend, the Reverend John E Cross, who had offered to finance an expedition to Sinai and Palestine. They set out by camel on 13 January, and travelled along a route that can be charted through the many drawings that Lear made on the way, including those around Suez (15-17 January), of the wadis around Abu Zenima (20 January) and of Wadi Ferran (23 January). Dated and numbered by Lear ‘Jany 21 4pm 1849’ and ‘91’, the present drawing is likely to depict either Wadi Mukattab or Wadi Maghara. Lear and Cross arrived at St Catherine’s Monastery on 27 January 1849, and stayed there for three nights. However, during that time, Lear caught a cold, so they decided to turn back to Suez. And on their arrival, Lear was exhibiting signs of fever. They had ‘hoped to make Gaza, quarantine, and the Holy Land but, having stayed there for eight days … the weather turned bad and Lear suddenly became miserable and gave up. From Alexandria, he took ship for Malta’ (Peter Levi, Edward Lear: A Life, London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2013 (revised ed), page 121. He would finally visit Palestine in spring 1858.

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