Having wintered in Italy (see lot 165) Lear journeyed to Malta for his health from December 1865 to April 1866, having visited there previously in 1862. Sir Henry Storks, who had been High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands was now Commander-in-Chief in Malta. Lear arrived, but found that Storks had just departed, Lear remained in Malta for three months.
A sketch for the present watercolour is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design, and inscribed '10-11 am./30 Jany 1866', apparently being executed in just one hour. The careful concentration of the detail and the fissures of the rocks and the bold compositional design show the influence of the writings of Ruskin and the doctrines of the Pre-Raphaelites, Lear was a close friend of William Holman Hunt, who he met in 1852.
Constance Wyatt was the eldest daughter of Thomas Henry Wyatt, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, brother of Digby Wyatt, architect (see Lady Strachey, Letters of Edward Lear, London, 1907, pp 198 and 202).