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Coloured Birds

Lear drew four different sets of imaginary "coloured birds":

  • 1863, fourteen coloured birds for Mary De Vere, a child he met in Corfu.
  • 22 January 1880, "made 24 ridiculous drawings of birds for the little Fentons."
  • 1880, a set of sixteen birds for Charles Geffrard Pirouet, six of which are presented here. This set is in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; a selection of six birds was published, in b & w, in Edward Lear, A Nonsense Alphabet, London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1952.
  • c1881, twenty pictures for the small son of Evelyn Baring; these were published in Queery Leary Nonsense in 1911 and reissued by themselves in 1912 as The Lear Coloured Bird Book)

Nothing is known of the first two sets. The following samples, and all information above, are taken from the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition catalogue, Edward Lear 1812-1888, edited by Vivien Noakes in 1988:

The Pink Bird
The Brown Bird
The Gray Bird
The Dark-Green Bird
The Crimson Bird
The Black and White Bird

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