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On 28 December 1908 Messina, Sicily, suffered a monstrous earthquake, registering 7.5 on the Richter scale, only 10% of its buildings were left standing and over 70,000 people died, moments later a tsunami devastated the surrounding coastal villages. Two years later Hunt travelled to Rome and onto Sicily where he sketched the ruined town buildings of Messina (Sketchbook 1. 1910-11). This painting is also inscribed 'Mallord House Chelsea' on the reverse; a house designed for him by Ralph Knott, Hunt and his family moved into it in 1911.