Edward Lear

Thanks to Project Gutenberg, many out-of-print publications are freely available online.

Edward Lear is mostly known for his nonsense verse, the first of which he published in 1846.  A Book of Nonsense was published when Lear was around 34 years old. It included short limerick verses like this one.

Book of Nonsense 1846 - Edward Lear

It wasn’t until around 1870, when Lear was approaching the age of 60, that his famous The Owl and the Pussycat appeared in the book, Nonsense Songs.

Owl and the Pussy Cat - Nonsense Songs 1871

His earliest work showcased his considerable talent as an artist. Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae was published in 1832, when Lear was just 20 years old. Forty-two colour plates of parrots are available for perusal via the link above. If you’re interested in some more biographical detail of this 20th child of 21 children, head over here to the Poetry Foundation.

Parrots - Edward Lear

Edward Lear - Rainbow LorikeetEdward Lear - sulphur-crested cockatoo

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidæ, or Parrots
       The greater part of them species hitherto unfigured,
              containing forty-two lithographic plates, drawn from life,
              and on stone

Author: Edward Lear

Release Date: July 24, 2014 [EBook #46392]
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: A Book of Nonsense

Author: Edward Lear

Release Date: October 8, 2004 [eBook #13646]

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: Nonsense Songs

Author: Edward Lear

Japanese print makers of the 18th and 19th century

This e-book includes the catalogue of Japanese prints on loan for an exhibition held at the Japan Society of New York in April-May 1911.  The accompanying lecture by Frederick Gookin was the opening event of that exhibition.

I’ve selected three of the prints in this informative work together with excerpts relating to each of the artists.

Japanese Color Prints

Primarily the charm of the Ukiyoé colour-prints is due to the fact that the leading masters of the school were artists of exceptional power. It is also due to the fact that most of them made print-designing their chief occupation, to which they devoted their thought, time, and skill, and that with rare exceptions they were less distinguished as painters.

Harunobu - Young Woman before Torii

The name of Suzuki Harunobu is familiar to every admirer of Japanese prints. It is in large measure to his genius that the development of full-colour printing is due. He was not only the first artist to make use of the new process, but he took advantage of it to bring out prints of a novel type. Very dainty and graceful these were, and in the poetic allusions or quiet humour with which they were charged, and in the quality of the brush-strokes with which the drawings were executed, they made a direct appeal to men of taste. Success was instantaneous. By the year 1765 Harunobu had come to the front and distanced all competitors for popular favour. The serenity and compelling charm of his compositions brought him wide fame. Realizing the possibilities that now lay before him, he proudly exclaimed, “Why should I degrade myself by the delineation of actors?” His ambition, he said, was to become “the true successor of the painters in the department of printing”; that is to say, to design prints that should be worthy substitutes for paintings. Instead of restricting himself to a few primary or secondary hues and the variations resulting from their superposition, he mixed his colours to get the precise tint desired, and he used as many colour-blocks as were needed for the effects at which he aimed. The Yedo-yé, or Yedo pictures, as the prints had been called from the fact that they were produced only at the eastern capital, were now denominated nishiki-yé, or brocade pictures, from the number of colours woven together in them. To the printing itself, the charging of the blocks with colour, the character and quality of the pigments and of the paper used, Harunobu gave careful attention, and these things were greatly improved as a result of his experiments.

FujiHokusai - Fuji

Best known for this image (via Wikipedia) – Great Wave off Kanagawa – created in 1820, Katsushika Hokusai was a master of wood block printing.


Godkin describes his work in the lecture:

Either Hokusai or Hiroshige might well engage our attention for an entire evening. Both were extraordinarily prolific; Hokusai was the more versatile and has the wider reputation. Both are among the greatest landscape artists the world has ever known. Their numerous prints of landscapes are a revelation of the possibilities of originality in composition and variety of interest in this field. Unless one has studied these prints in fine examples, it is impossible to realize how great is their merit. This is true of all the prints, but particularly true of Hiroshige’s. Between the best impressions and the very good ones the difference is really astonishing. But the best are so extremely rare as to make it probable that because of the difficulty and the cost of printing, very few of them were issued—the publishers finding cheaper editions more profitable.

KiyonagaHoliday Group

All, however, were surpassed a few years later by Kiyonaga, the last great artist of the Torii line and the culminating figure in the history of the Popular School. He conquered by the rugged strength and marvellous quality of his brush-strokes, by the richness of his colouring and the ripe mastery he displayed over all the resources of his craft. But also he created a new type of design—that which found expression in the great diptychs and triptychs that stand as the triumphs of colour-printing. At the height of his power his influence over his contemporaries was so great that, without exception, the younger men among them copied his style as closely as they could.

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org/license

sketching the Victorian gold fields in 1902

In 1902, a French artist by the name of Charles Georges Paul Millen de Grandmaison was travelling through Victoria with gold fields in his sights.  An insightful observer, it appears he may also have been one of the gold diggers himself as his watercolour sketching and accompanying text might indicate.  I can find no reference to him elsewhere, other than this fine folio of his work sold by Antipodean Books Maps and Prints and now held by The State Library of Victoria.

It seems it didn’t take long to pick up the lingo as some of his notations demonstrate.

Two men in a tent scandal of the gully levee des sluices Kyabram Hotel

Menu - May 1902

Margaret Preston

The Sydney Morning Herald – 9 April 1930 announced Margaret Preston as the first Australian women to be commissioned to paint her self-portrait for what became the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  

Margaret Preston self-portrait

Margaret Preston SMHPreston’s work and subjects changed over her long life. In 1930, she was reported as sending off some panels to London to be hung on the Orient liner Orcades.  Sydney Morning Herald – 21 December 1936

A collection of images (gleaned via a Google images search) demonstrates the prolific and varied nature of her work.


the art of the illuminated address

Illuminated addresses were once important components of a celebration of achievement.  They were generally very ornate and often included elements of the person’s history in the medley of images.

National Museum of Australia

Today the art of the illuminated address has all but vanished. In the mid to late 19th, and early 20th century, they were a popular way to thank prominent individuals for their contribution to organisations.

The artistry that went in to these addresses ranged from the fairly amateur production to highly sophisticated illustration techniques and calligraphy. They were, at their best, an art form in themselves.

Presentations often made the local news.

Australian Town and Country Journal – 1 April 1871

illuminated address Morpeth

Sydney Morning Herald – 18 August 1894

Balmain Rowing Club

They also provided opportunities for sycophancy.

South Australian Advertiser – 18 March 1874

Fairfax illuminated address

Here are some examples.

State Library of Victoria (out of copyright) – Goldsworthy and Davey.

download (7)

State Library of Victoria (out of copyright) – Sands & McDougall Limited

download (8)

John Oxley Library – State Library of Queensland (out of copyright)

Part of an illuminated address to the Chief Commissioner of Stamps on his resignation 1902

from floor covering to art form

From the Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser of 7 October 1865 is a comprehensive article on linoleum – its characteristics and manufacture – a year after Frederick Walton established the Linoleum Manufacturing Company.  I’m guessing that Frederick couldn’t have imagined the artistic opportunities that he opened up with oxidising linseed oil.

Linoleum manufacture

These paper samples of linoluem design are held by The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Their story is attached to Museum’s record.

Powerhouse Museum - linoluem design samples 1927-1930

Linoleum as a floor covering provided opportunities for designers and artists to create a wide range of patterns to go underfoot.  Decades later, lino cutting emerged as a craft then an art form.

From Wikipedia, here’s a great example of modern lino cut work from Irena Sibley – When the Sun Took the Colours Away – 1992.  Creative Commons Attribution.

Irena Sibley-SunTookColoursAway

Ida Rentoul – illustrator

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite was an illustrator whose work graced galleries as well as children’s books and poetry written by her equally creative sister Annie Rentoul and others.  Fairies, witches and ethereal scenes were her stock in trade.  There’s a summary of her illustrative work here at ortakales.com.


Fairy Music

Ida exhibited often in Europe during the 1920s. This photo from The Age – 10 Feb 1925 is of Ida and her husband returning to Australia on the SS Ormonde.

Ida Rentoul

photo per sharpesonline.com

photo per sharpesonline.com

Margaret Olley 1923-2011

Back in 1939, just days before her 16th birthday, Margaret Olley won Form IVA2’s prize for painting when a student at Somerville House in Brisbane.   The Courier Mail – 22 June 1939.

Nine years later, in 1948, she was the subject of William Dobell’s winnning Archibald Prize portrait.  This year’s Archibald Prize winner was Ben Quilty’s portrait of Margaret Olley.  How wonderful she was there to see it.  Vale Margaret Olley – artist, benefactor and national treasure.

Below is Chinese Screen and Yellow Room from the Art Gallery of New South Wales where you can find this tribute to Margaret Olley.

recording history – Septimus Power

This photograph of the artist H S Power (Septimus Power) appeared in the Canberra Times on 13 May 1927.

The major piece of work that Power painted in relation to the opening of Parliament House was entitled – The Arrival of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and. Duchess of York at the Opening of Federal Parliament House Building, Canberra 9 May 1927.

Power’s work as a war artist is perhaps more well known. He is among many artists featured on the Australian War Memorial site. Bringing Up the Guns is featured here and courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.