| Spanish, Andalusian School, early 19th century |
Duke of Wellington in Spanish Guerilla Encampment.
Oil on panel
32 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches.
Original Spanish, early 19th century carved and gilded frame.
Indistinctly signed G.... ? on a rock lower centre.
Indistinctly inscribed in Spanish on an envelope lower centre, the last word possibly being "Linares".
Original Spanish, early 19th century, carved and gilded frame.
The painting depicts The Duke of Wellington in a Spanish guerilla encampment in a cave during the Peninsular War and shows a Spanish guerilla leader, possibly Don Julian Sanchez, interrogating a captive French soldier. The Duke of Wellington sits at a table reading from the correspondence scattered across the floor of the cave. A Spanish Friar appears to be acting as translator during the interrogation. Don Julian came into close contact with the Duke after 3rd May 1811 when his men joined Wellington's army at Fuentes de Onoro, the first time guerillas served with British and Portuguese troops. Don Julian is known to have been on very friendly terms with Wellington.
The painting features the heroic Lancers of Castille (Lanceros de Castilla) returning from battle and celebrating their victory. The Lancers of Castille were Spanish guerrillas that became a unit of the Spanish army that fought for independence against the French. The unit was initially made up of volunteers including deserters from the imperial armies, former prisoners of war, Argentinians brought to the Peninsular by the British Army, guerrillas and former soldiers. They were led by one of the most charismatic and successful guerrilla leaders, Don Julian Sanchez El Charro (1771-1832). Don Julian appears to be the colourfully dressed bearded figure wearing a white plumed hat with red rosette in the centre of the composition. The Lancers of Castille carried lances with red pennants as carried by many of the guerrillas in this painting. Caves were often used as hideouts by the guerillas during the Peninsular War.
A French shako bearing Napoleon's Imperial Eagle has been placed on a trunk behind the British Officer. This probably belongs to the captured French soldier who is standing in his undergarments being interrogated by Don Julian. The French soldier has been carrying correspondence, probably including despatches, which are strewn across the floor of the cave. Don Julian and his Lancers gained a reputation for ambushing French messengers, capturing their dispatches and for providing vital intelligence to Wellington. The appearance of the Duke of Wellington is related to Goya's famous portraits of the Duke executed at the time of Wellington's entry into Madrid in August 1812.
This is an important historical record of the collaboration between the British and Spanish during the Peninsular War as well as a fine example of the work of one of the Andalusian genre painters active in Seville and Cadiz in the early 19th century.
Spanish, Andalusian School, early 19th century :