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Edward Lear: an artist in Riviera

Nonsense writer, painter, traveller: a multifaceted artist who found his home in Sanremo.

Born in Holloway in 1812 and died in Sanremo in 1888, Lear is remembered as a versatile and multifaceted artist. Poet, writer, draughtsman, musician, traveller: a cultural protagonist of his time, who has left us books, poems, paintings for a heritage of great value these days scattered all around the world, from the States to England, as well as in Italy.

In the second half of the 1900s, in spite of a peak career which allows him to sell and exhibit in many important exhibitions, his unstable health conditions, which have always plagued him, push Lear towards the Mediterranean seaside.

In Sanremo Lear feels at home, this is why he not only decides to move there but also decides to build there his home.

In spite of his refined artistic art, which because of its meticulous and scrupulous reproduction of nature and love of spontaneity already goes beyond Victorian stiffness and looks towards the premises of Impressionist avant-garde, Lear obtains the honours of the artistic press and is still remembered  for his nonsense.  A genre of which he is considered a “maestro” together with Lewis Carroll, nonsense becomes with the publication of Lear’s first Book – published in England in 1846 – and the following collections written in Sanremo, a manifest and recognized text form. Situations against logic and paradoxical matches make his limericks, written for his grand-children to enjoy, a significant work not only for its literary value but also for the revolutionary spirit which forecasts an underlying anti-Victorian reaction.

The artist today rests in the historic Memorial Cemetery of the Foce, where his tombstone, flanked by that of his faithful servant, says: “In memory of Edward Lear landscape painter in many lands dear from his many gifts to many souls”.

[Alessandra Chiappori]

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