This mid-19th-century oil painting depicts the sun-drenched port of Tarifa in southern Spain. It’s after an engraving by Scottish artist David Roberts RA (1796-1864).
Under a vivid Mediterranean sky abundant with passing clouds, sailors rest and share tales of the sea. An assortment of nations brought together by shared adventures and perilous employment. In the bottom right, a group sit awhile on cooler grass in the shade of the Terriffa. While on the left, four local fishermen drag empty nets ashore. Note the various outfits with several continents represented.
This unusually luminous scene with its glistening turquoise waters was originally captured by a Scottish artist with an addiction to travel. David Roberts undertook sketching tours to the Middle East, North Africa and Spain - in search of views to inspire collectors. Here, the composition is dominated by the impressive Castle of Guzmán el Bueno, a 10th-century fortress. Its ancient presence, a conspicuous inclusion. While the bulging sails of Spanish vessels add a distinct quality to this radiant scene.
It’s plausible that the artist worked from an engraving by Roberts, adapting it accordingly. They probably hailed from Spain or Italy.
Housed within a gilt frame.
Learn more about David Roberts in our directory.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 27½” x 22½” / 70cm x 57cm
Year of creation: c. 1840
Condition: Artwork presents well. Canvas relined. Later stretcher. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.