Franz Richard Unterberger received his artistic education in Germany at the Academy in Düsseldorf where he trained most notably under Andreas Achenbach. But it was Unterberger's travels abroad which would ultimately mold his unique artistic personality as well as define the direction of his artistic pursuits. While he traveled and exhibited extensively in Europe, Unterberger spent much of his time in Southern Italy and Sicily, painting local inhabitants and as well as the captivating and romantic landscape that surrounded them.
The present work, by far one of Unterberger's most splendid paintings, is dominated by the wide, dramatic perspective of the street connecting Palermo to Monreale, in the hilly area to the southwest of the city. Monreale was one of the favorite destinations of the Palermitani, eager to visit the splendid mosaic-filled Duomo, or Cathedral, a jewel of the Arabic-Norman culture which flourished in Sicily in the 13th Century.
The artist has the ability to convey the brio of the street animation while singling out the most colorful protagonists of the pilgrimage to Monreale: the peddlers sitting under the shadow of a patchy tent between the decadent ruins of a church and the facade of a dry fountain, and a woman and a priest, chatting on the stairs of the church. The priest's red parasol cast against the dark silk of his cloak epitomises Unterberger's exceptional sense of color and unparalleled attentiveness to detail.