Heritage Malta is commemorating the 150th anniversary of Edward Lear’s stay in Gozo through the Expresso Exhibition, ‘Edward Lear in Gozo – 150 years later’.
The exhibition will remain open till Saturday 28th January 2017 at Heritage Malta’s office in the Cittadella, Gozo.
During his one week sojourn between 16th March and 23rd March 1866, the British artist went out for daily walks around the sister island of Malta, capturing many of its picturesque views in his quick yet faithful sketches.
Once Lear landed in Gozo he was immediately captivated by this island’s beauty. From his lodging in Rabat, Lear practically covered the island on foot in less than eight days. He recorded his daily accounts in his diaries. These accounts consist of not only the locations he sketched but also provided a fascinating detail about daily life in Gozo 150 years ago.
From his diaries we know with certainty that he sketched over 80 drawings en plein air (requires to carry tools in the open and sketch on site). The main localities Lear visited on the island of Gozo are Rabat, Gelmus Hill, Ras il-Wardija, the Fungus Rock at Dwejra, Għarb, Xagħra, The Ġgantija Temples, Marsalforn, Żebbuġ, Fontana, Xlendi, Sannat, Mġarr ix-Xini, Ta’ Ċenċ, Fort Chambray, Mġarr, Għajnsielem, Nadur and Ramla Bay.
Lear’s works on the island form part of a collection within the national collection. The focus of the exhibition is on the Gozo works, however five other Lear views of Malta are being exhibited as part of the same collection. A sketch which is being exhibited for the first time and recently acquisitioned is the Ħaġar Qim sketch.
The British artist Edward Lear (1812-1866) is an important 19th century personality, both in the artistic and literary circles. He seriously dedicated himself to drawing and painting. Lear travelled widely and sketched incessantly. He visited Malta on several occasions between 1848 and 1866, documenting Malta and Gozo during a time when the landscape was far more pristine than it is now. Lear left Britian mainly for health reasons, after fleeing the harsh cold British winters on long journeys to more favourable climates.