This view through the olive groves shows the 13th Century castle which was built by the Caetani family to cement their hold over the surrounding countryside. Dominating the medieval hill-town of Sermoneta, the castle was taken from the Caetani in 1500 by Pope Alexander VI, who had it fortified by his son Cesare Borgia, and gave it to his daughter Lucrezia. The composition of a fortified building seen through trees from afar, with figures in the foreground, was also used by Lear for his depiction of the Citadel of Corfu.
With financial backing from Lord Derby, Lear set out for Italy in the summer of 1837. For most of the next ten years Lear wintered in Rome and toured other parts of Italy in the summer. For a note on Lear's dating of watercolours see lot 226.