Edward Lear, Monte Soratte near Rome, Italy.
Signed twice with monogram and indistinctly dated ’18[?]’ (lower right) and inscribed and numbered ‘6 SORACTE. [sic.]/Brock.6. Corso d’Italia Rome.’ (on the stretcher). Oil on canvas. 9 ½ x 18 ½ in. (24.1 x 47 cm.)
With Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 1970, where purchased by
Sir John Ward, G.C.M.G., and by descent to the present owner.
Lear first arrived in Rome in December 1837, and he lived in the city on and off until 1848, returning again in the winters of 1859-60, 1871 and 1877. The city and its surroundings inspired his first travel book Views in Rome and its environs, published in 1841, complete with panoramic lithographs of the scenery. Monte Soracte, or Soratte, lies north of Rome near Nepi, halfway to Viterbo. Although the inscription has faded the painting may date to the 1880s: at least one studio drawing of the subject from 1883 is known, presumably based on an earlier sketch, and was sold in these Rooms on 12 November 1996.
“Vides ut alta stet nive candidum Soracte, ..” (Horace, Odes, I, IX)
“See how resplendent in deep snow/ Soracte stands.”
“These hills seem things of lesser dignity,
All, save the lone Soracte’s height displayed,
Not NOW in snow, which asks the lyric Roman’s aid.” (Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, IV, LXXIV)