Edward Lear is now most famous for his nonsense poems. During his lifetime he was just as well known as an artist, producing illustrations of birds and animals for natural history books, and travelling the world to make watercolours and drawings of distant places. Lear had never formally studied art, and in the early 1850s asked Hunt to give him lessons in oil painting, which he did. This is one of a group of portrait drawings Hunt made of his artist friends. 'Edward Lear' was presented with 'Robert Braithwaite Martineau' also by Hunt in the Walker Art Gallery collection. Hunt gave the two drawings to the Walker in gratitude for the encouragement and prizes he had received from the Liverpool Academy in the 1850s.