Lear made this sketch with the intention of later making it into an oil painting in his studio. It was made in 1847 when he was travelling from Rome to the rest of Europe. Lear visited Syracuse (a historic city in Sicily) twice – firstly in 1842 and again in 1847. Lear liked quarries and described them as a 'ghostlike dance of grey forms.'
This watercolour is a good example of the annotations that Lear added to his work. He has repeated the word “figs” 4 times on it.
William Holman Hunt (1827 - 1910) helped Lear develop his painting technique, using the English countryside as a stimulus, and working his sketches into oil paintings back in his studio.