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    Edward Lear: Malayan Giant Squirrel (courtesy of Royal Society)

King of nonsense verse Edward Lear's other life as a zoological illustrator explored in new show

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Edward Lear is best known for his nonsense verse, the first poetry I came across as a youngster and so the standard by which I still judge everyone else (note to all other poets, you’re very serious). But the man who made silliness an artform began his career at the other end of the stupidity-serious spectrum working as a zoological illustrator.

The Royal Society in London is currently showing a comprehensive collection of his scientific work, from toucans and turtles to hedgehogs and herons. The illustrations themselves are really beautiful, combining the accuracy needed with a definite way of capturing the personalities of his subjects and of course anyone familiar with Lear’s work will be fascinated to see the other string to the prodigious talent’s bow and think about how this work informed his other.

The show runs until October 26.

  • El7

    Edward Lear: Culmentaed Toucan (courtesy of Royal Society)

  • El7

    Edward Lear: Hedgehog (courtesy of Royal Society)

  • El1

    Edward Lear: Yellow-footed tortoise (courtesy of Royal Society)

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    Edward Lear: Red Lemur (courtesy of Royal Society)

  • 2012-08-09-purple-heron

    Edward Lear: Purple Heron (courtesy of Royal Society)

  • El8

    Edward Lear: Eagle Owl (courtesy of Royal Society)

  • El9

    Edward Lear: Collaptes Collaris(courtesy of Royal Society)

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.