Drawings of Edward Lear

While Edward Lear often drew cartoons of himself, he was also sketched and photographed a number of times. I have copied some of these images for a quick film I am making to illustrate the suite composed by David Watson, and that uses the themes from some of the songs he wrote for our project “Following Lear”. It is always interesting when looking closely at Lear how he is often looking into the distance. I think this is less to do with the mechanics of the camera and more to do with his general air of melancholy.

More than that, I learnt that a camera remained in the Kokali family and was passed around various houses in Corfu. This camera dates back to the period when Lear was at his most active drawing and sketching images of the landscape in Greece, Turkey and Albania. It is possible that Lear used the camera in his work, that he was comfortable with the machine and relaxed in its company.

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Holman Hunt was a good friend and encouraged Lear to paint in teh open air. Lear did so but quickly gave up the effort and went back to his earlier system of creating detailed sketches, often annotated in modern Greek, a language he had studied and picked up in Corfu.

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The elderly Lear:

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and the Young Lear:

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More Lear limerick drawings

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-15-45Lear wrote 212 limericks.

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The Dong with the luminous nose is not strictly a limerick-screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-09-09-04

A poster for our exhibition in Wolfson, Oxford showing the owl and pussycat posingfor passports before embarking on their 366 day pea green cruise.

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more British history

Here’s another review and a few sketches I did

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From THE INDEPENDENT:

Well, as British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley, the historian and broadcaster’s latest jolly meander through the past, reminds us, history is there to be spoiled, in the sense that the events we think we know so well – so well, indeed, that they become mythologised – can still offer some revelations. This is exactly how the softly didactic Ms Worsley explains the Wars of the Roses, (and the glorious Revolution and the Indian Mutiny in later episodes). There is, you see, no such thing as a definitive account of anything in history, not even from Ms Worsley. So, there is plenty of fascination left in, say, Richard III, or “wicked King Wichard” as the learned Lucy styles him. This is as good as telly history gets.

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British History’s Biggest fibs reviews

Here are some sketches of the tremendous Lucy Worsley doing her stuff!

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From the Daily Mail:

Ruff, bustle … codpiece! Saucy Dr Lucy is playing dress up again: Christopher Stevens reviews last night’s TV

Mr Benn loved dressing up. Every day he went to a fancy-dress shop, where he tried on a new costume — clown, wizard, astronaut, cowboy — and had an adventure, before returning to his mundane life in his suit and bowler hat.

I want to see a remake with Dr Lucy Worsley. No one since Mr Benn has enjoyed dressing up so much.

Historian Dr Lucy Worsley dressed as Elizabeth I for British History's Biggest Fibs on BBC4

Historian Dr Lucy Worsley dressed as Elizabeth I for British History’s Biggest Fibs on BBC4

As long as she’s being Grown-up Lucy, in her smart dresses and severe blonde bob, she’s a scholarly and respectable presenter. But let her don a ruff or a bustle, and her eyes glitter with mischief.

British History’s Biggest Fibs (BBC4) saw her pull on a yeoman warder’s finery at the Tower of London.

The effect was as intoxicating for her as three swift glasses of white wine at the historians’ office party. Goodbye decorous Dr Worsley, hello Louche Lucy.

In the show, Dr Lucy tried to debunk mysteries of the Wars of the Roses - but it was confusing

In the show, Dr Lucy tried to debunk mysteries of the Wars of the Roses – but it was confusing

Eyeing the chief Beefeater, she told him saucily: ‘I think I might have a better codpiece than you.’ And while the poor man was trying to think of an answer to that, she added: ‘Let’s discuss our chests.’ Evidently she likes a man in uniform.

When she wasn’t flirting with guardians of the Crown Jewels, she was debunking some of the myths of the Wars of the Roses.

BBC and Edward Lear

Lucy Worsley’s first episode of “British History’s Biggest Fibs” aired last night and some very positive reviews in the Press today. My graphics looked very good and, indeed, I noticed that my Shakespeare drawing got used rather more than I expected! All worthwhile. Do, meanwhile, check it out on BBCiplayer!

The title changed a few times during production, so here is a different version of the title sequence:

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Next week is the Glorious Revolution (a contrast to the french Revolution, of course) and the final week will be the British Raj.

The Producer wrote to me today to say that the first programme had got an audience of 1.3 million, very good indeed for BBC4 which usually gets audiences of about 500,000.

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Meanwhile, here is my version of a painting Lear did in 1863 of the island of Philae which will accompany “the Lear Suite” by David Watson:screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-18-08-51

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The Koran in Church

I have been meaning to write something about the reading of Surah 19 in a Scottish Cathedral on 17th January. This led to the resignation of one of the Queen’s 33 Honorary chaplains, Gavin Ashenden, who wanted to conduct his own campaign against the Cathedral and against the priest who had arranged the event. For Gavin Ashenden, what happened was blasphemous.

A number of issues have been raised- that the priest who made the arrangements, the Cathedral Provost, Kelvin Holdsworth, is gay, that the Koran was read by a woman and a Shi’ite and so on. All largely irrelevant, and actually when all is considered, things to be grateful about rather than to condemn. So the real focus is the text of Surah 19, which the sensationalist press and the rev Ashenden, claimed “denies the divinity of Christ”. It does not. Here is a photograph of Madinah Javed reciting the Surah. At the bottiomof the blog is a video recorded in the Cathedral of her recitation. It is, in itself, rather beautiful.

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This is what Rev Ashenden wrote to “The Times”:

“Quite apart from the wide distress (some would say blasphemy) caused by denigrating Jesus in Christian worship, apologies may be due to the Christians suffering dreadful persecution at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“To have the core of a faith for which they have suffered deeply treated so casually by senior Western clergy such as the Provost of Glasgow is unlikely to have a positive outcome.

“There are other and considerably better ways to build “bridges of understanding”.”

There is nothing new in reading the Koran in a Scottish Cathedral. It has been done before, in front of the Moderator of the Church of scotland, in front of Archbishop Winning. And the passage chosen had been read before in Churches in Scotland on a number of occasions. It celebrates the belief in Islam in the Virgin birth, and is also just one instance when Mary is celebrated in the Koran. Mary, after all, is mentioned far more in the Koran than in the Christian Bible and Mary is the only woman to be mentioned by name in the Koran.

In his blog, the Chaplain writes about “Kelvin Holdsworth’s lack of awareness, and his carelessness” which may well be cause for alarm and he also highlights the issue that caused him distress. Towards the end of the Surah are three verses which question the idea that God should have a son, the Christian claim, specifically 19.91 and 19.92:screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-09-50-36

In the reports circulating on Twitter, the chaplain insists that the Surah specifically denies the Divinity of Christ, which frankly is not the case. It is a passage that may be taken to defend such a denial, but the text itself does not do that. It deals with the lives of Zakariyya. Maryam, Jesus, Yahya (John), Abraham, Ishmael, and Enoch (Idris). It reproduces the Christian message of “glad tidings”, so it is a good companion piece to the New Testament, though it also adds “warnings”. There are warnings about who might intercede to God and as this passage traditionally was to have been recited to a neighbouring Christian King, Negus, it is likely that the passage implicitly challenges the orthodox belief in the intercession of the Theotokos, but it is implicit, not explicit and many anglicans absolutely reject this belief anyway. The only explicit statement that might worry a Christian congregation is the statement above that God should not be thought to have a son.

Reciting the Surah traditionally confers great blessings.

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The variety of belief accepted in the Anglican communion today is remarkable. Indeed, it is only recently in 1984, that the Archbishop of York, Dr David Jenkins, denied the Virgin birth. This is a passage from the Koran that, in contrast, celebrates both parthenogenesis and the role of Mary in the Christian narrative!

I applaud the Provost, therefore, in promoting interfaith, and particularly during the service of Epiphany. This is the time when the magi visited Jesus- when people of different faiths and backgrounds came to the home of the infant child and brought him gifts. In the Orthodox tradition, it is also a celebration of the Baptism of Christ.

Following the Chaplain’s intervention (he was not at the service, and maybe the term “bullying” would be more appropriate), the Archbishop of Glasgow has apologised for any distress caused. I really cannot see that there was any reason at all to apologise. We need to promote ties with Islam, welcome strangers, rejoice in mutual kindness and celebrate what we hold in common if we are to challenge extremism.

The Provost is no stranger to controversy. Here he is discussing gay marriage on “Songs of Praise”:

Some Edward Lear Pictures

David Watson has put together many of the Edward Lear compositions to form a Suite. We shall post a version of this shortly. In the meantime, in celebration, here are some Edward Lear illustrations.

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Here is the Dong with a luminous nose-

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