Edward Lear, 'Farringford', 15 October 1864 (360 x 485mm)
This sketch was made during one of Lear’s long visits to see the family in the Isle of Wight. The title is written twice in Greek. There are pencil labels such as 'brick' 'downs', 'dry leaves', and ‘gerany-Elms’ (in visually-disguised lettering) and a giant beetle strolling over the lawn, suggesting Lear’s play with the children, Hallam and Lionel (then 12 and 10 years old).
Lear’s surviving diary entries document his many visits to the Tennysons, whom he tried to see whenever he was back in England. In June 1859, he writes in his diary: ‘the 2 darling boys & their mother are as perfect a lot as can be: altogether the recurrence of regret when I leave Faringford makes me see that I like it better than any other place now.’
In the 1860s, Tennyson’s ‘moods’ and Lear’s hypersensitivity sometimes led to clashes and hurt feelings. Two days after this sketch, Lear writes in his diary of Alfred being ‘in one of his irritating small=captions moods. I believe no other woman in all this world could live with him for a month’. Lear did, however, return to Farringford many times after this visit.