Lear left England in November 1864, to spend the winter in the Riviera, at the end of November he set off with Giorgio to walk to Genoa, they walked between sixteen and twenty miles a day, returning to Nice on New Year's Eve. As he wrote to William Holman Hunt from the Promenade des Anglais on 7 January 1865, 'One of my aims this winter was to 'get' all the Corniche or Riviera di Ponente; .. that I have done both ways - with 145 sketches & better health than before - also less abdomen'. These sketches he 'penned out' in the evenings for his possible, but never realised, book (Vivien Noakes, ed., Edward Lear, Selected Letters, Oxford, 1988, pp. 202-3). This impressive view of Villefranche was executed at the start of his stay in France; he clearly returned to it towards the end of his stay. A smaller drawing of Villefranche from the same viewpoint and executed immediately after the present drawing was sold Sotheby's, London, 19 June 1969, lot 87 and another drawing dated '8-9.30 A.M. Jany. 15 1865' was sold Sotheby's, London, 11 April 1991, lot 85.