Edward Lear, View of the Citadel, Corfu, with an orange grove in the foreground.
Signed ‘E. Lear’ (lower right). Oil on canvas. 19 x 30 in. (48.3 x 76.2 cm.)
Lear first visited Corfu in 1848. He returned in the winter of 1855-6 and effectively made the island his home until 1864. The artist was obsessed by the island’s beauty from his first visit. In April 1848 he wrote: ‘This afternoon I have been wandering all about & nothing can be more lovely than the views; I never saw more enchanting. The extreme gardeny verdure, the fine olives, cypresses, almonds, & oranges, make the landscape so rich, & the Albanian mountains are wonderfully fine’. 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 particular favourite, and the view from its environs was the subject of some fifteen pictures. As he wrote in a letter to his sister Ann on 25 December 1855 ‘Oh! If you had but seen the day here! Perfectly cloudless, warm & sunny, & with every orange & myrtle & olive tree alive with sunshine, & all the bright snow hills on the other side of the water pink & lilac & blue!’. 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 monogram.
We are grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.