The People of Gibraltar
1862 - Frederick Richard Lee

Frederick Richard Lee was born in Devon in 1798. He enrolled in the Royal Academy in 1818 and never looked back as he became one of the most a prolific - and well paid - oil painter of his era. Recent research shows that he produced more than 300 paintings in his lifetime many unfortunately as yet unknown to the general public.


 Frederick Richard Lee

He was much influenced by Constable and the majority of his pictures deal with British scenes. But he did travel. Only copies of two of his Gibraltar pictures seem to be readily available although there may be more in private collections.

His style could almost be described as 'super-realism' - he was apparently unimpressed by Turner's impressionism. The result is that he has left us with two shimmering views of both the north and the south ends of the Rock

His drawing of a sunfish can be used as evidence of his visit to Gibraltar as the fish was caught while he was travelling to the Rock from Algeciras.

Sun Fish

Surprisingly, even though he is recorded as having travelled extensively throughout Europe he painted very few pictures outside Britain. Out of several hundred available over the internet only one each from Italy and France are available. Gibraltar can therefore count itself lucky to have two. There are none at all of Spain.

It has also been suggested that he may have used photographs - from Francis Frith or Washington Wilson for example - to develop his few foreign themes. If so it leaves us with one or two anomalies in the Windmill Hill picture; the guns seem out of proportion, the cliffs too high and the rock formations on the right do not correspond with reality - all unusual mistakes for a painter of such precision.


1862 - Gibraltar, showing Windmill Hill Barracks, O’Hara’s Tower and the Spanish mountains in the distance


A comparison of Lee's painting and Firth's photograph of the same subject. Both were probably created on more or less the same dates.


1862 - The Rock of Gibraltar - the view is from the ruins of the Spanish fort of Santa Barbara.