The frame on this picture bears the inscription 'The house of General Garibaldi at Caprera. Painted on the spot by Luigi Steffani 1863'.
The present lot combines the specialities of Luigi Steffani, a painter of marine scenes, landscapes and architecture, who exhibited works at all the great Salons in Italy, as well as in Paris and London.
Caprera is a small island off the coast of Sardinia, famous as the adopted home of General Garibaldi, the Italian soldier-hero of the Risorgimento. As a young man, Garibaldi dedicated his life to the struggle against Austrian dominance of Italy but after participating in a failed insurrection in Piedmont in 1834, he was forced to flee the country and was sentenced to death in absentia. He spent the next twenty years in exile. He made a brief return in the revolutionary year 1848, but fled again as the Austrians regained control. It was only in 1854 that Garibaldi could again make Italy his home. He continued to lead forces against the Austrians until the Unification was complete, when he was elected to serve in the newly established Italian parliament.
Upon his return to Italy, Garibaldi purchased half of the island of Caprera, to which he retired. On his deathbed, he asked that his bed be placed where he could look at the waters in the bay of Caprera, which form the background to the present picture. Today the island is covered in the blooming pinewood here seen surrounding the house, which was first planted by Garibaldi. The house itself is a national museum.