Bicentenary of Edward Lear 12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888

by Ann Sylph on

12 May 2012 is the bicentenary of Edward Lear's birth so this month we are featuring some of the Edward Lear watercolours we hold and which have not been featured in the past as artefacts!

Now better remembered for his nonsense verse, he began his career as a zoological illustrator.

ZSL is fortunate to have 12 original watercolours by Edward Lear, seven of these were used as a basis for lithographic colour plates in our publication Transactions of the Zoological Society.

Cryptoprocta ferox, watercolour by Edward Lear. 1833.
Cryptoprocta ferox, watercolour by Edward Lear. 1833. Reproduced as a lithograph in TRANSACTIONS OF THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON Vol. 1 (1835) Pl. 21

ZSL's Library also contains books illustrated by Edward Lear and about him Edward Lear : list of books and paintings in ZSL Library (279 KB) both books and artworks are listed in our online catalogue . Please note that members of the public are welcome to visit and use ZSL Library but both photographic ID and proof of address will be required on your first visit. Appointments are not normally necessary but they are needed to view most of the items by Edward Lear as they are part of our special collections Library Regulations for Special Collections (96 KB)

Kob Antelope by Edward Lear ; watercolour 1837.
Kob Antelope by Edward Lear ; watercolour 1837.

Other `Artefacts' featuring the works of Edward Lear include:

Illustrations of the Family Psittacidae or Parrots. The first plates were published in 1830 when Lear was only 18.This wonderful book is featured as Artefact of the month October 2010.

Watercolor of Lagotis cuvieri Artefact of the month April 2012

Watercolour of a whiptail wallaby, Macropus parryi Artefact of the month February 2011

Northern Red Bishop, Euplectes Franciscans, watercolour by  Edward Lear. 1834
Northern Red Bishop, Euplectes franciscans, watercolour by Edward Lear. 1834

Many UK zoos celebrated the Lear bicentenary with an Owl and the Pussycat day on Saturday 12 May. At ZSL London Zoo on Saturday 12 May and Sunday 13 May there will be Lear inspired story-telling in the Event Space, courtyard of Animal Adventure at 12 noon and 2.30pm.

The Blog of Bosh - Edward Lear Website gives details of events taking place around the world to celebrate the bicentenary.

ZSL have lent three items to the Royal Society for Edward Lear and the Scientists Exhibition

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