Lear spent four months from December 1865 - April 1866 in Malta. He had visited the island previously, briefly in 1842, on his way to Greece from Italy and then again en route to Corfu in 1862 and had thoroughly enjoyed the island. This third trip however, was less successful; although the weather was good and he produced many accomplished sketches, most of his previous aquaintances were absent and he was concerned about his sister Ellen’s health.
The ancient city of Mdina or Citta Vecchia was the capital of Malta until 1530. Situated on one of the highest points of the island, it dominates its surroundings.