Lear had lived in Rome between 1837 and 1848. It was a city that he knew and loved, but when he returned to winter there in 1858 he found many changes. He went back for a second winter, but a place that had offered him so much excitement and stimulation in his youth had now lost its charm for him, and after he left in April 1860 he returned only for brief visits.
However, during the winter of 1859-60 he worked on five paintings of the city, two of which depict the River Tiber. As was normal with Lear, he painted the picture in his studio, based on drawings he had made on the spot. The present painting was commissioned by Shalcross Fitzherbert Widdrington, who was High Sheriff for Northumberland in 1874. He paid Lear £32 for the picture.
We are grateful to Dr. Vivien Noakes for assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.