Lear first visited Corfu in 1848. He returned in the winter of 1855-6 and effectively made the island his home until 1864. (The Ionian Islands had been ceded to the British under the terms of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and remained under their rule until 1863, when they were returned to the government of Greece).
The artist was obsessed by the island's beauty. In February 1856 he wrote: 'I really think no place on earth can be lovelier than this: - the olives in their half-wild & uncared for semiculture are so perfectly beautiful - & the views of the Albanian coast so exquisitely majestic'. He could have been describing the view portrayed here, seen from the hillside above the village of Ascension, now Analypsis, with the Citadel of Corfu and the mountains of Albania seen in the distance. The village was Lear's particulary favourite, and the view from its environs was the subject of some fifteen pictures. As he wrote in a letter of 3 December 1857 'the whole scene, in general, & in detail, was so perfectly lovely'.
It is probable that this picture was worked up from sketches executed in 1856-7. It is certainly datable to before 1861 when Lear started using his mongogram.
We are grateful to Vivien Noakes for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.