Civita Castellana

Civita Castellana

Edward Lear, British, 1812-1888
Oil paint on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust

Edward Lear, Civita Castellana, 1844. Oil paint on canvas; 14 5/8 × 22 1/4 in. (37.15 × 56.52 cm). Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2018.20

image height: 14 5/8 in, 37.1475 cm; image width: 22 1/4 in, 56.5150 cm; frame height: 22 7/8 in, 58.1025 cm; frame width: 30 5/16 in, 76.9938 cm; frame depth: 3 in, 7.6200 cm
European and American Art Before 1900
European Painting and Sculpture before 1900

Best known as the author of the children’s poem The Owl and the Pussycat (1871), Lear also enjoyed a successful career as a painter of landscapes. In 1837 he made his first extensive trip through Europe and, except for brief interludes, lived the rest of his life abroad. Painted during a ten-year sojourn in Italy, Civita Castellana depicts a view of the ancient Roman town about forty miles north of Rome. He combined carefully described foreground details of foliage and rocks with a broad panorama receding into the distance, infusing the scene with a stillness and calm that convey a feeling of timelessness while evoking the hazy heat of summer in the Roman countryside.

Known Provenance
Given by the artist to Rev. James J. Hornby, Winwick, from 1844 (according to Christie’s, London, January 28, 1972, lot 98); sale, Christie’s, London, January 28, 1972, lot 98; sale, Christie’s, London, October 21, 1977, lot 153; sale, Christie’s, London, May 19, 1978, lot 119; with Spink, London, 1978; with Fine Art Society, London, by 1985; from which acquired by Sir Philip Shelbourne, 1988; executor’s sale, Christie’s, London, November 4, 1994, lot 93; sale, Sotheby’s, London, July 9, 1997, lot 94; from which acquired by William M. B. Berger and Bernadette Johnson Berger, Denver; Berger Collection Educational Trust; gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2018. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum and we will post information as it becomes available. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “Treasures from the Berger Collection: British Paintings 1400-2000” — Denver Art Museum, 10/2/2014 – 9/9/2018