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In 1851, Pyne left London for a three-year stay in Italy financed by the Manchester picture dealer Thomas Agnew. Following a customary route through Switzerland, Pyne headed up the valley of the Rhone River toward the Simplon Pass into Italy. He stopped en route and painted “from nature” this grand watercolor of the fortified city of Sion guarding the broad valley beneath the overarching Alps.
In 1856, Agnew, reviewing the 35 large watercolors Pyne had brought home, determined that these were the best Pynes ever, and bought them all.
Thomas Agnew and Sons, Manchester by purchase from the artist, Aug. 8, 1856; Leger Galleries, London, bt. Grace Ritchie through John Mitchell, July 2, 1962