Parrots also brought him a patron, Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby, whose teeming family exposed Lear to a new audience for his gifts as an entertainer. As an artist, Lear was supposed to remain below stairs with the servants, but Stanley liked to have his protege upstairs to amuse his guests. Where Carroll had Alice and the Liddell family, Lear had the Knowsley nursery, where the Stanley children, their friends and nursemaids, kept riotous company. Unlike Carroll, he did not sentimentalise little girls, betraying no hint of the paedophile. Rather, Lear loved the mayhem of childhood to which nonsense was the only answer. Nonsense was infantile, rude, eccentric and grumpy, as children are. Nonsense could celebrate surreal violence and ghoulish accidents. As a roving landscape painter, Lear could be exquisite. Through his crazy wordplay, he could express his inner torment as a homosexual single man in Victorian England.
Friday, September 29, 2017
… Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense review – honey and heartbreak | Books | The Guardian.