Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
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From the Collection
In the winter of 1866, Lear set off to visit the Near East, arriving in Egypt in December. He spent three months travelling through the country before setting off across the desert to Palestine, arriving initially in Gaza before continuing inland to Jerusalem. En route across the desert, he recorded in his diary that ‘some things in this world are not pleasant, to wit beetles in your hair, - the odiferous nature of respected domestic fleas; and the gulpy roary groanery of camels’. (Edward Lear diaries, 1858 – 1888, 8pm, 25th March 1867, Houghton Library, Harvard University).
It was Lear’s second visit to Palestine and Lear was once more captivated by the beauty of Jerusalem. He initially intended to only spend a few days there, wanting to visit Nazareth and Galilee, which he has not made on his first trip, but the volume of numbers of pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem, stopped his plans and he remained in Jerusalem. Lear records in his diary for 10th April, that he ‘went to Mount of Olives to fix plan for tents: - & drew the most beautiful view towards the dead sea until 4 or 4.30. Came down slowly towards Siloam’. (Diary, 10th April).
Sir Franklin Lushington was a close friend of Lear’s and amassed a considerable collection of the artist’s work. The two met in Malta in 1849, where Franklin’s elder brother Henry was Chief Secretary to the government. In 1855, Franklin was appointed judge to the Supreme Court of Justice in the Ionian Islands, and Lear spent a great deal of time with him in Corfu. In 1929, Lushington’s daughter, Mildred sold the Lears that had descended through the family, through Barnard and Craddock. Some entered the British Museum, whilst others were dispersed on the open market.
From the Watercolour World