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Society for the History of Natural History


Natural History of Edward Lear

Natural History of Edward Lear

April 2, 2012 09:00am - August 18, 2012 06:00pmHoughton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138

Although he is best remembered today as a whimsical nonsense poet, adventurous traveller, and painter of luminous landscapes, Edward Lear is revered in scientific circles as one of the greatest natural history painters of all time. During his brief immersion in the world of science, he created a body of work that continues to inform, delight, and astonish us with its remarkable blend of scientific rigor and artistic finesse.

Thanks to the generosity of two discerning Harvard benefactors, Philip Hofer and William B. Osgood Field, the Houghton Library holds the largest and most complete collection of Edward Lear’s original paintings in the world. Among the thousands of items in this collection are some two hundred sketches, studies, and finished paintings devoted to natural history. This exhibition, commemorating the bicentennial of Lear’s birth, is the first devoted to this important aspect of his career. The exhibition is being curated by Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (Drexel University).