“My Dear Montgomery,” Lear wrote from a villa at Sanremo, “… just about to pack and send off… two drawings of Athens – after all without any ‘Howls’ – large or small.
“But I have to thank you for your criticism about the Parthenon, and it is astonishing how much the drawing has improved since I have done away with the dark shadow and the thundercloud.”
He adds: “…when I have completed one more Athenian drawing… I never intend to do any architectural subject anymore, but stick to pure landscape – trees, plains, hills, rivers etc – but no prominent building hence forth and forever…”
Montgomery was to be charged £70 for the drawings, but the Bloomsbury buyer had to stretch to £1800.
Some of the higher-priced lots were composite or job lots, but among the single more easily identifiable travel items was a 1726, association first of Capt George Shelvocke’s Voyage Round the World…
This was a work notable for its accounts of California on what was a privately financed, essentially piratical expedition, bent on attacking Spanish shipping. In contemporary calf, it was not in great condition – the binding damaged and with tape repairs to the map and elsewhere – though generally clean internally.
It was, however, a copy that had once belonged to Harry Nelson Coleridge, the nephew and literary executor of the poet who gave us The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It sold at £1700.
Bid to £3000 was a copy in a broken but period binding of the 1687, second English edition of Aesop’s Fables with its well-known engraved illustrations by Francis Barlow.