View of Palermo
Inscribed and dated at lower right, in pen and brown ink, Palermo / 15.12. july. 1847; color notes in pencil throughout
Collection of Patricia and Henry Tang
The drawing was made during Lear's 1847 trip to Sicily, where he traveled with John Proby, who had come to Italy to study painting. Proby met Lear in Palermo at the beginning of May; the two were there again on the eve of the festival of St. Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo. St. Rosalia's body was found and brought to Palermo on 15 July 1625, and the feast is celebrated on this date each year. The double date inscribed on Lear's drawing (15. 12. July) may refer to both the day the drawing was executed and the date of the festival. In this sheet, Lear went over the pencil outlines with pen and freely brushed-on watercolor and gouache. The color notes in pencil suggest that a drawing like this would provide the artist a topographically accurate sketch that he would use to prepare more finished drawings or oil paintings.