According to a letter from Lear to his friend and patron Chichester Fortescue, Lord Carlingford, the artist painted four oil paintings of Ravenna (31 October 1881, Later Letters, p. 253). Of these four, one was for Charles Savile Roundell (1827-1906), M.P. for Grantham and Skipton and one for Samuel William Clowes (1821-1898), M.P. The present painting is one of the other two and has not appeared at auction before.
In May 1867, accompanied by his servant Giorgio, Lear travelled up the east coast of Italy from Brindisi to Ravenna. There are a number of pine forests situated in the low-lying landscape around Ravenna, including, to the south, the Pineta di Classe, visited by Dante and Byron, and, to the north, the Pineta San Vitale. Lear did not specify in which of these he made his sketches. Lear returned to the subject in October 1881, writing in a letter to Fortescue (now Lord Carlingford): ‘I have put out all my sketches of Ravenna today, to work from on the four oil paintings I am hoping to finish.’ (31 October 1881, see Strachey (ed.), Later Letters, 1911, p. 253).
In 1884, following an exhibition of works at 129 Wardour Street, a former critic of Lear, Alfred Seymour had written to the artist commenting on the works: 'I do not think you have ever done anything better. The Ravenna and Gwalior are quite remarkable, as are indeed also the Argos, and the poetical and mys-terious Pentedatilo. The Corsican drawings are all lovely, some more striking than others, according to the subject chosen." (20 September 1884, Strachey, op. cit.).
We are grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.