The People of Gibraltar
1891 - Gibraltar Watercolours - Charles Ryder

We are lucky to have these classical watercolour views of Gibraltar – as well as of Algeciras and Tangier. Charles Ryder did them when he was in his early 20s and although he showed promise as an artist when he was a young man, it seems he never tried his hand again after 1900. 

On the other hand, the probable reason why he stopped producing them was that he had discovered the charms of photography. In this we were out of luck. Although he seems to have taken literally hundreds of pictures throughout his career not one of the many I can find are of Gibraltar.

Charles Henry Dudley Ryder

Charles Ryder was born in 1868. As an adult he enjoyed a lengthy and successful career as an army officer in the Royal Engineers. In November 1891 he was sent abroad to join a group that were surveying India. He was only 23 years old but he must have been good at his job. In 1919 he was appointed Surveyor General of the entire sub-continent.

Meanwhile he undertook numerous surveys in China, the Turkish Persian Border and elsewhere - by which time he had been promoted to colonel - but despite numerous references concerning what he was up to and where I can’t find any information as to what he was doing in Gibraltar in the late 19th century.

Ryder left us with an album of his paintings of which the Gibraltar/Algeciras watercolours are in the majority. They occupy three different time slots: 1891 (2 pictures), 1892 (2 Pictures), 1892/3 (1 picture) – but the largest number by far are undated. There are 17 of them. Given the lack of any further information my guess is that in 1891 he was temporarily visiting the Rock while on his way to India. 

On the December the following year – in 1892 - he married Ida Josephine Griggs and it seems possible that he painted the two dated 1892 on his way to marry her in India.

Marriage Certificate (1892)

Which makes the 1892/3 painting rather intriguing – perhaps he started it in Gibraltar and finished it later in India. Another possibility – one that would be nice if true – would be that he returned to Gibraltar in 1893 on his way back home during the start of his honeymoon. 

Gibraltar Bay (1891)

Algeciras (1891)

Off New Mole Head (1892)

The Bay (1892)

The Waterfall’s Algeciras (1892-1893)

View above Alameda (Undated)

Almarraima (sic) and Cork Woods (Undated)

Waterfall Valley, Algeciras (Undated)

East Side of Rock (Undated)

Garden, Engineer House (Undated)

Garden, Engineer House (Undated)

View near Gardiner’s Battery (Undated)

On Hillside near Lorreto (sic) (Undated)

Out to the Straits, above Lorreto (sic) Convent (Undated)

View Looking NW (Undated)

“Old Man’s Garden” (Undated)

View from Moorish Castle, Linea and Queen of Spain’s Chair (Undated)

The Rock from shore of Bay (Undated)

The Bay looking SW (Undated)

Summerhouse near Moorish Castle (Undated)

Off Waterport, sunset (Undated)

Devil’s Tower, N Front, Gibraltar (Undated)