Edward Lear, A Distant View of the Citadel, Corfu.
Watercolour over pencil, heightened with touches of bodycolour and gum arabic; signed lower right with the artist’s monogram and inscribed: Corfu. 285 by 450 mm.
Lear was first introduced to Corfu, then under British Protectorate, by Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1821-1899). He arrived by boat from Naples via Malta on 19th April 1848 and was immediately entranced by the beauty of the island, revealing to his sister, Ann, ‘I wish I could give you any idea of the beauty of this island, it really is a Paradise. The extreme gardeny [sic] verdure – the fine olives, cypresses, almonds and oranges, make the landscape so rich – and the Albanian mountains are wonderfully fine. All the villages seem clean & white, with here & there a palm tree overtopping them.’1
During his first trip Lear only spent a few days on Corfu before he left to explore Zante, Cephalonia and Ithaca. However, despite the brevity of his stay, he developed a strong attachment to the island and, in December 1855, after his friend Franklin Lushington (1823-1901) was appointed Judge to the Supreme Court of Justice in the Ionian Islands, he took the opportunity to settle there. He made the island his home until 1863, when Prince William of Denmark accepted the throne and the majority of British residents left the island. He returned there only once more in 1877, but it was a place that never ceased to inspire him, for he believed ‘no other spot on earth can be fuller of beauty & of variety of beauty.’2
1. V. Noakes, Edward Lear: The Life of a Wanderer, London 1968, p. 86
2. V. Noakes, op. cit., 1968, pp.195-6
Also: The Citadel from Ascension.