Lear had settled back in London during the 50's and became friends with the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Holman Hunt. He and Hunt decided to make a trip together to the Middle East, and on 6 December 1853, Lear set out on his own, with Hunt due to follow later. Lear returned to London the following year with a collection of drawings made on the trip. A watercolour of exactly the same view of the Kom Ombos Temple dated February 1854 exists, so the present oil must have been painted after his return to London and based on the watercolour. In 1848 Lear met Thomas Baring, later Earl of Northbrook, in Rome, and he became one of Lear's closest friends for the rest of his life.