- Museum number
View from Peterborough Tower, Tangier Castle; prospect to the SW, over undulating country, with outlying forts, in the foreground a bastion with red-coated soldiers conversing, to the left part of the town and its fortifications, including Catherine Fort, and on the extreme left the bay, to the right a party of musketeers on the path leading to Henrietta Fort, and below on the extreme r, Whitby Mole and the Atlantic Ocean; formerly in the 1637 album containing 279 miscellaneous drawings. c. 1669
Pen and brown ink, with watercolour; on nine conjoined pieces of paper
- Production date
- 1669 (circa)
Height: 281 millimetres
Width: 1022 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Stainton & White 1987
Tangier, part of the dowry of Charles II's queen, Catherine of Braganza, became a British possession in 1661, but was to be an almost constant source of problems. As Pepys, who was Treasurer of the Tangier Committee, noted in May 1667 when it was proposed to send an expedition to reorganise the garrison, "I think [it] will signify as much good as everything else that hath been done about the place; which is, none at all". In 1669 Lord Howard (grandson of Hollar's first English patron, Lord Arundel) was sent on a special embassy to the Moorish court in order to negotiate a treaty allowing Tangier free trade as well as access to the interior of Morocco for the settlement's merchants. In March 1668/9 Hollar petitioned the King to be allowed to accompany Howard, with the intention of making an accurate survey of the settlement, for which he asked to be paid £100 (see R. Pennington, 'A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etched Work of Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-1677', Cambridge, 1982, p. xlvi). The expedition arrived in Tangier in August 1669 and returned to England in December 1670, the embassy having proved a failure (see E. M. G. Routh, 'Tangier: England's Lost Atlantic Outpost 1661-1684', London, 1912, pp. 99-112). About thirty panoramic views by Hollar survive (fourteen of which are in the British Museum), which include both preliminary studies and finished watercolours: the series shows a skilful combination of the elements of military topography and pictorial landscape. After his return to England, Hollar etched fifteen views, twelve of which seem to have been published by John Overton as a set in 1673, 'Divers prospects in and about Tangier'.
As can be seen from Hollar's inscriptions, the forts that defended the settlement were given incongruously English names, including Whitby, Kendal, Norwood and Monmouth, and there was a White Hall Fort and tavern, a bowling green and an English-looking kitchen garden. All were to be destroyed when the city was abandoned by the English in 1683-4. Both the drawings shown here are finished watercolours: a preliminary study for Stainton & White 1987, cat. no. 67 is also in the British Museum (1932,1103.4).
Hollar was appointed "King's scenographer or designer of Prospects" in 1667 and accompanied an expedition to Tangier two years later in order to make topographical records of the area and its fortifications, for which he was paid a fee of £100. Thirty panoramic views survive, including preliminary studies and finished watercolours of which this is an example; the series shows a skilful combination of the elements of military topography and pictorial landscape. Hollar published sixteen related etchings after his return to England.
Tangier had become a British possession in 1662 and as may be seen from the inscriptions on this drawing the forts along the defensive wall were given incongruously British names: Whitby, Kendall, Norwood, Monmouth. All were destroyed when the city was abandoned in 1683.
The commission was the last major one in Hollar's career. Born in Prague he had trained as a topographical draughtsman and etcher in Germany before entering the employment of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, in 1636. He was introduced at court and became drawing-master to the young Charles II when Prince of Wales. The Civil War, however, disrupted his career and he died in poverty producing hack-work for publishers.
This large, carefully worked drawing is an elaboration of a quick sketch now in the Yale Center for British Art (Volrábová VI/2). Indeed, Hollar's regard for this sheet is also suggested by his decision to sign himself as royal designer, a title he received in 1666. An etching of the right part, with a slightly different viewpoint, was later produced (Pennington 1193; New Hollstein 2233).
Lit.: A. Griffiths and G. Kesnerová, 'Wenceslaus Hollar: Prints and Drawings from the collections of the National Gallery, Prague, and the British Museum', London, 1983, no. 121; S. Turner, 'Wenceslaus Hollar and Tangier in 1669', in A. Bubenik and A. Thackray eds, 'Perspectives on Wenceslaus Hollar', London, 2016, pp. 173-4, fig. 1
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1960, BM, Sloane Drawings, (no cat.)
1983 Jun-Aug, Prague, National Gallery, 'Wenceslaus Hollar', no. 43
1983, BM, Wencelaus Hollar, no. 121
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.2
1987 Jun-Aug, BM, 'Hilliard to Hogarth', no. 73
1987 Sep-Nov, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, 'Hilliard to Hogarth'
2003/4 Jul-Jan, Salford, The Lowry, 'The Impossible View?', no. 13 (only exhibited for a portion of the exhibition's duration)
2011 Feb-Aug, London, Tate Britain, Watercolours
2019-2020 22 Nov-23 Feb, Prague, Narodni Galerie, Wenceslaus Hollar
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: T,10.20