The Collection

View of Beirut

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ArtistEdward Lear (1812-1888)
TitleView of Beirut
MediumOil on canvas
Exhibition"Great Cities in the 19th Century", Fine Art Society, London, 11-12/1985 (8); "Romantic Lebanon" Leighton House, London, 10/2-8/3/1986 (37); ''British Orientalist Painting'' Yale Center for British Art, U.S.A. 7/2 - 28/4/2008, Tate Britain, 4/6 - 31/8/2008, Pera Museum Istanbul, 26/9/2008-11/1/2009, Sharjah Art Museum, UAE, 18/2 -30/4/2009; "Government Art Collection: Selected by Simon Schama: Travelling Light", Whitechapel Gallery, London, 16/12/2011-26/2/2012; "Revealed: Government Art Collection", Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 17/11/2012-24/2/2013 & Ulster Museum, Belfast 15/3-9/6/2013.
Dimensionsheight: 45.30 cm, width: 69.30 cm
Inscriptionbr: EL(monogram)
AcquisitionPurchased from the Leger Galleries, June 1953
LocationUK, London, HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road
GAC number2150

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Colombo, River SceneColombo, River Scene

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Rome, 15 December 1837Rome, 15 December 1837

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Cervara, 31 July 1839Cervara, 31 July 1839

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Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour on paper

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Rome from San Giovanni Laterano

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Edward Lear made his only visit to Lebanon in May 1858, after spending two months in Palestine. He arrived in Beirut on 13 May and later described the city in a letter to his sister, Ann:

'This place is quite different from anything in southern Palestine - & reminds me more of Naples by its numerous villas & gardens, & the civil & gay people. I was only looking about me yesterday, but today I shall make a drawing of Mt. Lebanon, & the Bay & town - which are really lovely as a whole.'

From the drawings he made on the spot, Lear later produced several oil paintings of Beirut, showing the city from different viewpoints.

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Cedars of LebanonCedars of Lebanon


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Edward Lear

Edward Lear, best known for nonsense verse and limericks, was also a topographical landscape painter, musician, travel writer, ornithological and natural history draughtsman and an illustrator. Largely self-taught as a painter, he began by drawing animals at Knowsley Hall menagerie; later moving to landscape painting. He lived in Italy from 1837 to 1848, returning briefly when Queen Victoria requested twelve drawing lessons. He later studied at the Royal Academy Schools (1850-51). In 1852 he was introduced to William Holman Hunt, whose paintings became a great influence. From the early 1860s, Lear’s reputation as a landscape painter declined, perhaps partly a result of the mass-produced watercolours he made, which he called ‘Tyrants’.