19th Century
Island of Gibraltar

Oil on canvas
Image size: 8 3/4 x 12 1/2 inches (22 1/4 x 31 3/4 cm)
Gilt frame

This is a painting from the 19th Century depicting the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Gibraltar was one of the most famous natural features of the Iberian Peninsula. From the 1770s it was studied by British geologists and it was a frequent subject for view painters and illustrators.

In 1830 Gibraltar became a British crown colony and the first half of this century saw a significant increase in the city’s population to more than 17,000 in 1860. People from Britain, as well as all around the Mediterranean (such as Italy, Portugal and France) took up residence in the town.

The present painting, dominated by its horizontal layout and the choice of a very high viewpoint, shows a panoramic view of a fragment of nature. The artist creates a majestic view of the Mediterranean sky and the strength of its light and its transparency. Colour, light and the vastness of the Mediterranean landscape in its virgin state are undoubtedly the true subjects of this Romantic painting. By using devices such as various planes which are not continued into the background, a combination of very high viewpoints for the land and very low ones for the sky, and contrasts of light, the artist succeeds in conveying the experience of the place, expressed in monumental terms.