Edward Lear, View of the Castello Caetani and the hill-town of Sermoneta, Lazio, Italy.
Signed and dated ‘Edward Lear. del. 1872./(Feb 3. 1840)’ (lower left). Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour, heightened with touches of bodycolour. 6 1⁄2 x 10 1⁄8 in. (16.5 x 25.7 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, London, 7 June 2005, lot 75.
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 5 June 2007, lot 133, where purchased by the present owner.
This view through the olive groves shows the 13th century castle which was built by the Caetani family to cement their hold over the surrounding countryside. Dominating the medieval hill-town of Sermoneta, the castle was taken from the Caetani in 1500 by Pope Alexander VI, who had it fortified by his son Cesare Borgia, and gave it to his daughter Lucrezia. The composition of a fortified building seen through trees from afar, with figures in the foreground, was also used by Lear for his depiction of the Citadel of Corfu.
With financial backing from Lord Derby, Lear set out for Italy in the summer of 1837. For most of the next ten years Lear wintered in Rome and toured other parts of Italy in the summer.