Edward Lear, an English landscape painter best known for penning an original kind of foolish verse and Edward Lear, an English landscape painter best known for penning an original kind of foolish verse and promoting the limerick, was born in High gate, near London, England, on May 12, 1812, and died in San Remo, Italy, on January 29, 1888. His nonsense poetry, which uses nonsense words to portray a world of strange animals and usually implies a deeper underpinning of melancholy, demonstrates his true ability. His fascinating pen-and-ink sketches are of a similar grade to theirs, especially in the limericks. The limerick was born in Highgate, near London, England, on May 12, 1812, and died in San Remo, Italy, on January 29, 1888. His nonsense poetry, which uses nonsense words to portray a world of strange animals and usually implies a deeper underpinning of melancholy, demonstrates his true ability. His fascinating pen-and-ink sketches are of a similar grade to theirs, especially in the limericks.
Lear was the youngest of the 21 children (and the earliest to survive), born to Ann Clark Secret and Jeremiah Lear, a trader who had worked previously for the family's sugar refining industry. Lear was raised in a middle-class household in Holloway, North London. He was dragged up by his eldest sister, Ann, who is 21 years older than him. In the financial turmoil that preceded the Napoleonic Wars, Jeremiah Lear inevitably missed a payment to the London Stock Exchange as a consequence of the family's newly confined finances, Lear and his sister were ordered to leave the family home, Bowman’s Lodge, and live together when he was four years old. Ann loved Edward; she kept him until her demise when he was almost 50 years old.
Lear faced chronic health issues. From the moment he was six years old, he endured periodic grand mal seizures, sinusitis, asthma, and, later in life, partial blindness. While visiting a fair close to High gate with his father, Lear had his first seizure. He was horrified and mortified by the occurrence. Lear suffered a life of remorse and disgrace about his seizures. He frequently noticed the commencement of a seizure in time to remove himself from the public sphere, as per his adult diaries. Lear began to develop mood disorders when he was approximately seven years old, presumably due to the instability of his early years. He endured episodes of extreme depression that he referred to as "the Morbid."
By the time he was 16 years old, Lear was already drawing "for bread and cheese." He effectively learned the position of serious "ornithological draughtsman," drawing for the Zoological Society and the Earl of Derby from 1832 to 1836, who operated a private zoo at his estate, Knowles Hall. He was the first prominent bird artist to represent birds employing live birds instead of skins. Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots, was Lear's maiden production, published when he was 19 years old in 1830. One of the greatest entomological artists of his time, he was compared to the naturalist John James Audubon and trained Elizabeth Gould while still participating in John Gould's works. He turned to landscape painting and travel as his eyesight worsened too much to operate with the fine drawings and carvings of plates required in lithography with such perfection.
Among his other excursions, he went to Greece and Egypt in 1848–1849 and toured India in 1873–1875, halting momentarily in Ceylon. He made lots of colorful wash drawings in his distinctive style while on the road, which he later evolved in his studio into oil and watercolor paintings and prints for his books. His landscape works usually feature views with strong lighting and striking color contrasts.
Lear spent his summers on Monte Generous, a summit connecting the Swiss canton of Ticino and the Italian region of Lombardy, between 1878 and 1883. The Plains of Lombardy from Monte Generous, an oil painting by him, is held in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum.
He retained his serious painting throughout his career. A book containing a few illustrations was published near the end of his life; he had always wished to portray Tennyson's poems.
Lear set out on a journey across the Italian peninsula in 1842, going through the areas of Molise, Lazio, Rome, Apulia, Sicily, Basilicata, Calabria, and Abruzzo; Lear compiled his opinions on the Italian way of life, cultural traditions, and the majesty of the historical buildings in his notes and sketches. Lear was specifically interested in the Abruzzo, which he journeyed through in 1843 by way of the (Celano, Avezzano, Marsica, Alba Fucens, and Trasacco) and the Cinque Miglia plateau (Castel di Sangro and Alfedena). A few years later, the immense plain of Lago Fucino was drained to foster agricultural development. Lear represented the medieval castle of Albe with Mount Sirente and portrayed the medieval village of Celano with the citadel of Piccolomini dominating its same plain. Lear discussed the majestic basilica and the cold solitude of the mountains at Castel di Sangro.
The journey to the southern Italian areas in 1847, as detailed in Lear's Journals of a Portrait Painter in Southern Calabria, & c., was more ambitious. Lear's sports writing is at its best in the extensive Calabria part, where he chronicles his route among incredible scenery and often bizarre people.
Lear played the accordion, flute, and tiny guitar in contrast to the piano, which was his choice of instrument. He wrote music for various Victorian and Romantic poems, but he is most renowned for his numerous musical interpretations of Tennyson's poetry. In 1853, 1859, and 1860, he released three settings total, preceded by three in 1853. Tennyson solely supported musical arrangements for King Lear. Only two of Lear's music soundtracks have survived: "The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-B" and "The Pelican Chorus." Lear also composed songs for many of his ludicrous songs, such as "The Owl and the Pussycat." Though he never played for a livelihood, he also sang his bizarre songs and settings of other people's choices of poetry at uncountable social gatherings, usually adding his lyrics (like with the tune "The Nervous Family") and sometimes switching nursery rhymes for serious lyrics.
Franklin Lushington was the subject of Lear's most impassioned and arduous friendship. In 1849, he met the young lawyer in Malta and journeyed around southern Greece together. Lear began to have feelings for him that Somebody did not fully share. Despite continuing to be friends for about 40 years until Lear's passing, the difference in their feelings plagued Lear continuously. Lear's attempts to find male fellowship were not always effective; in some situations, these relationships may have failed due to Lear's profound love for them.
His two broken marriage proposals to the same woman, 46 years younger than him, were the nearest he came to being married. Instead, he relied on friends, communications, and later in life, his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, an obedient friend but (as Lear groaned) a terrible cook.  His cat, Foss, who passed away in 1887 and was burial with great solemnity in a cemetery at Villa Tennyson, was another beloved companion in San Remo.
In the 1870s, Lear soon made San Remo, on his preferred Shore, home, moving there in a home he called "Villa Tennyson."
Lear was renowned for using an extensive moniker to present himself, based on Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos, such as "Mr. Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph" or "Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore.
Lear's health had been suffering for a while before he passed away at his villa in 1888 from heart attacks, which he had struggled with at least since 1870. The wife of Lear's doctor, Dr. Hassall, depicted Lear's funeral as a somber, lonely event because no of Lear's numerous good friends could attend.
Lear is cremated in San Remo's Cemetery Foce. From Tennyson's poetry To E.L. [Edward Lear], On His Journeys in Greece, these phrases describing Mount Tomohrit (in Albania) are engraved on his monument.
In 1988, a set of Royal Mail stamps and an event at the Royal Academy were published in Britain to honor the centenary of his passing. A plaque now marks the place of Lear's birth in Bowman's Mews, Islington, London. His 200th birthday was honored in 2012 with several shows, exhibitions, and lectures in cities around the world, including an International Owl and Pussycat Day on the anniversary of his birthday.
Works by Edward Lear
Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots (1832)
The Book of Nonsense (1846)
Mount Timohorit, Albania (1848)
The falls of the Kalama Albania (1851)
Journal of a Landscape Painter in Southern Calabria (1852)
Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica (1870)
The Quangle-Wangle's Hat (1876)
Laughable Lyrics (1877)
Nonsense Botany (1888)
Tennyson's Poems, illustrated by Lear (1889)