Pasley Park, London, England
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Lear arrived in Malta in December 1865. He knew that a friend and patron Sir Henry Storks, who had previously been High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands from 1859 until 1863, was now Commander-in-Chief in Malta. Storks had just departed however but Lear stayed on Malta until April 1866. Lear’s diary shows that he spent 28th March 1866 walking in the south of Malta. At 7.15am he got a cart to Qormi (which he spelt `Kurmi’) then walked south down a valley to Siggiewi. When he got to the chapel at Zebbug at 12, Lear had to shelter from the rain under a bridge `when the wind was like a pair of bellows.’ After lunch, he continued down the valley of Zebbug between showers described it as `extremely lonely and striking.’ He made some sketches (one drawn at 2.15pm was with Guy Peppiatt Fine Art in 2008, see summer catalogue, no. 37) but it was `very cloudy and cold at times. After it cleared, we walked out of the Kurmi [Quormi] valley, & straight to Paola – the pomegranate gardens are delightful… and then to Tarrchien [Tarxien], where I got a little sketch of the buildings …… with their basement of Cactus. - & we walked back to the Hotel slowly, arriving at 6.45.
’Henry Willett, the original owner of this watercolour, was married to Frances Coombe, a family friend of Lear. The Coombe family lived at Peppering House, Burpham, Sussex and Lear frequently visited there as a young man in the 1830s. Willett, a Sussex businessman and collector, was an early benefactor of Brighton Museum. It has remained in the family collection until now.