Lear first visited Sicily in the spring of 1842, returning in the early summer of 1847. He caught the steamer to Palermo, where he was met by John Proby, heir to the Earl of Carysfort, who wished to learn sketching from Lear. On 11 May they set out together, travelling all round the island, visiting Syracuse and Mount Etna. Of Girgente Lear wrote to his sister Ann 'Nothing on earth can be so beautiful as Girgente with its 6 temples - I speak of the old town and the flowers and birds are beyond imagination lovely'.
Franklin Lushington (1823-1901) and Lear met on a voyage to Malta in the spring of 1849. They formed a close and life-long friendship and after Lear's death in 1888, Lushington wrote that 'he has always been the most charming & delightful of friends to me; & apart from all his various qualities of genius, I have never known a man who deserved more love for his goodness of heart & his determination to do right; & I don't think any human being knew him better than I did. There never was a more generous or more unselfish soul' (Lushington to Mrs. Charles Street, V. Noakes ed., Edward Lear 1812-1888, London, 1985, p. 199). Lushington was the executor of Lear's estate; Lear left all his papers and paintings to him, and the proceeds from the sale of the Villa Tennyson and its contents went to Franklin's eldest daughter Louisa Gertrude.