Lear travelled to Sicily in the company of John Joshua Proby (1780-1855), subsequently 2nd Earl of Carysfort, between May and July 1847, recording the places that they visited both in his sketchbook and in his diary. He wrote in a later letter that 'Proby makes a perfectly excellent companion - and we now go on with perfect comfort and smoothness; indeed I now like him so much that I do not at all like to think of his leaving me' (A. Davidson, Edward Lear: Landscape Painter and Nonsense Poet, 1812-1888, London, 1938, pp. 43-44).
Cefalù is now a popular beach resort on the north coast of Sicily. The town was built on the behest of the Norman King, Roger II. The present watercolour shows the view from the beach up towards the Cathedral, which was begun in 1131.