- Museum number
The Alhambra, Granada; a cluster of tall buildings on a rocky hill, a gorge (?) to left, hills and mountains beyond. 1832
Watercolour and bodycolour on buff paper
- Production date
Height: 257 millimetres
Width: 360 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Stainton 1985
Inspired by the example of his friend David Wilkie, Lewis travelled in Spain from 1832 to 1834. having according to his patron Richard Ford, "orders for young ladies" albums and from divers booksellers, who are illustrating Lord Byron . The exotic and romantic character of Spain seems to have kindled Lewis's enthusiasm for distant places: for ten years from 1841 he lived in Cairo, and on his return to England was to cause a sensation with his watercolours of Arab subjects.
Lewis used the sketches made on his Spanish tour as the basis for later watercolours as well as for two volumes of lithography this view of the Alhambra was used as the background for the 'Distant View of the Sierra Nevada', published in 'Lewis's Sketches of Spain and Spanish Character', 1836. The vibrant colouring of studies such as this astonished Cotman when he saw Lewis's Spanish drawings in 1834: "words cannot convey to you their splendour, My poor Red Blues & Yellows for which I have been so much abused and broken hearted about, are faded fades, to what I there saw, Yes and aye, Faded Jades & trash . . .". Lewis was subsequently to abandon the swift and fluent use of water-colour as seen here in favour of a microscopically elaborate and dense technique that rivalled the brilliance of oil-paintings. Indeed, in 1858 Lewis resigned from the Water-Colour Society. "I felt that work was destroying me. And for what? To get by water-colour art £500 a year, when I know that as an oil painter I could with less labour get my thousand".
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1958 Apr, BM, Eight centuries of landscape ... water-colours, Section 83
1977 Oct, Guildford House Gallery, 'John Frederick Lewis', no. 26
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.171
1991 Jan-Mar, Ohio, Cleveland MA, BM English Watercolours, no. 80
1991 Mar-June, N Carolina MA, BM English Watercolours, no. 80
1992 Jun-Nov, Essen, Villa Hugel, 'London 1800-38', no. 258
2009 July-Oct, Edinburgh, NG of Scotland, Imagining Spain ...
2012 Apr-Aug, UAE, Abu Dhabi. Treasures
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number