The People of Gibraltar
1860 - Samuel Colman - Three Oil Paintings of the Rock

Samuel Colman - sometimes known as Coleman - was one of the more important figures in American art during the second half of the 19th century. He was born in Maine but moved to New York with his family when he was a child. By the time he was 19 he had already held his first exhibition at the National Academy of Design and was soon on friendly terms with just about every major American landscape painter of the day.

Samuel Colman 

In 1860 he left for Europe and seems to have spent at least some time in Gibraltar. In fact the critic Samuel Benjamin has suggested that he used Gibraltar as a sort of base for his visits to Spain and Morocco.  The pencil drawing shown below belongs to this period.

Colman was standing near O’Hara’s Tower (see LINK) by Mediterranean Steps, looking northwards towards Signal Station and Spain    (1860 - Pencil on brown paper)

He also painted two striking oil paintings of the Rock as shown below.

Clearing Storm at Gibraltar (1866)

Gibraltar   (1866)

Both paintings are, in my opinion, very attractive in their own right. But despite the precision and similarity of his treatment of the harbour and its ships which of course one would of course expect from a master of his craft, neither portrait of the Rock rings true. All of which together with the fact that both are date 1866 lead me to suspect that both were done when he was back home in America, perhaps from sketches which he took in 1860/61.

The artist is known to have painted a third canvas of the Rock in 1863 depicting a view taken from slightly further north which including the ruins of the fort of San Felipe (see LINK) with a Spanish flag waving above it. Annoyingly nobody seems to know where it is.

Colman returned to Europe for a four-year tour in the early 1870s although I am not quite sure whether he ever returned to Gibraltar. What I do know is that he was responsible for three engravings which were included in an article on Gibraltar written by George M. Towle. It was included in an 1877 edition of Harpers Magazine. (See LINK

This one is almost certainly a mirror image of the real thing    (1877)

And this one was a mistake by Harpers - It actually shows a street scene of an unspecified town in Spain  (1877)

Unfortunately yet another mistake - it’s not Gibraltar. I would say it’s one of several that Colman did during his visit to Morocco