Ruins of Castle of Las Navas in Andalusia

Description: 

The ruins of the Castle of Las Navas stand at the top of a hill that crests at the very center of the composition. This focal point is flanked on both the right and left registers with dense foliage and shrubbery. The plentiful vegetation encircles a meadow at the foot of the hill. In this clearing, groups of men and women are picnicking and relaxing. In the center of the foreground, two aristocratically dressed men stand surveying the pleasure-seekers.

Primary Works: 

Picturesque Tour Through Spain

Accession Number: 

G40 SW6 Cutter

Height (in centimeters): 

20

Width (in centimeters): 

26

Printing Context: 

Ruins of Castle of Las Navas in Andalusia was printed as an engraved illustration in Henry Swinburne’s Picturesque Tour Through Spain. (London 1808). This text was originally published in 1779.

Associated Events: 

The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa


In the thirteenth century, after “the gold era” in which the region prospered from religious tolerance and social, scientific, and cultural advancements, the province of Córdoba in Andalusia was invaded by the Almoravids and the Almohades; these were fanatical dynasties of North African Berbers who began to persecute the Christians and the Jews (H. Swinburne, Picturesque Tou). In 1212, the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa resulted in the end of Berber rule. The city of Las Navas was abandoned, and many of its inhabitants fled to Africa. In Picturesque Tour Through Spain, Swinburne describes the battles as follows:
In this pass, on a round hill, was encamped in 1212, Mahomet Miramolin of Africa, with his mighty host, when the allied Kings of Castille, Aragon, and Navarre, came over the Sierra Morena to attack him. The strength of his position, and his command of the only way by which they could penetrate into Andalusia, checked their progress. The Moor had behind him an abundant country and rich towns, from which he drew daily supplies: the Spaniards had neither victuals nor drink, nor any means of procuring them in the mountainous desert in which they were engaged: it was therefore necessary to take a speedy resolution: the attack was voted. Under the guidance of a shepherd the allies surprised a hill that overlooked the African camp: the assault was given, the entrenchments were forced, and the infidels routed with prodigious slaughter. This victory decided the fate of Spain. (H. Swinburne, Picturesque Tour)

Associated People: 

Henry Swinburne (1743-1803)


Henry Swinburne was an English travel writer who “spent six years in France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, during which time he formed an intimacy with some of the most celebrated literati of those countries, and received some signal marks of esteem from the Sovereigns of the countries he visited” (D. Rivers, Literary Memoirs 290). He also wrote Travels in the two Sicilies, 1777-1780, which was published in 1783.

Associated Places: 

Andalusia


Andalusia is the second largest of the seventeen autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain. Its capital and largest city is Seville. The region of Andalusia is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada, and Almería. Andalusian culture was deeply influenced by Muslim rule during the Middle Ages. The Moors established universities in Andalusia and cultivated scholarship, bringing together the greatest achievements of all the civilizations they had encountered. During that period, Moorish and Jewish scholars played a major part in reviving and contributing to Western astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and mathematics (N. Epton, Andalusia 4-7).


The Castle of The Navas of Tolosa in Andalusia


“This is a most romantic spot, worthy of the pencil of Salvator Rosa: a bold eminence, crowned with the remains of an ancient castle, seems to block up the passage towards the mountains; hills clothed with wood, and huge masses of rocks impending on every side, confine the waters of a limpid rivulet to a narrow defile, where they tumble down a shelving bed. Shade, coolness, and the pureness of the water, draw hither frequent parties from the neighboring towns; here they feast, dance, and sing, till the approach of night warns them to reascend the heights, and retire to less solitary abodes” (H. Swinburne, Picturesque Tour).

Associated Texts: 

Swinburne, Henry. Picturesque Tour Through Spain. London: E. Orne, 1808.


-----. Travels through Spain, in the years 1775 and 1776. In which several monuments of Roman and Moorish architecture are illustrated by accurate drawings taken on the spot. By Henry Swinburne, Esq. Vol. 1.The second edition; to which is added, a journey from Bayonne to Marseilles. London, 1787. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Subject: 

This engraving is clearly intended to enact Gilpin’s theory of the picturesque. When one compares the composition of Scott’s print with the caption following Gilpin’s geographically unspecific drawing, A View into a Winding Valley, the similarities are striking. Here, as in Gilpin’s sketch, we have the “picturesque appendages” in the foreground, the ruined castle atop a “rocky knoll,” and the “side-screens” of dense foliage creating the effect of a theatrical stage (S. Copley, “Gilpin on the Wye” 140-141). The major difference in Scott’s print is that here the “stage” is occupied by the spectacle of the picnicking crowd. 

Significance: 

As an illustrated plate in Henry Swinburne’s Picturesque Tour Through Spain, Scott’s engraving is an exemplary image of the type of entertainment and education that Swinburne suggests the reader will find through the contemplation of exotic landscapes. Although the nationalities of the pleasure-seekers are not evident, Swinburne’s text, which is written in both French and English, targets a British and European audience, suggesting an educated and perhaps multilingual readership. The figures of the two men surveying the groups of men and women lounging in the valley beneath the hilltop ruins could easily be interpreted as the reader and Swinburne himself, with Swinburne instructing his companion on how to properly view the scene before him.

Function: 

Book Illustration

Bibliography: 

“CHAPTERS FROM THE HISTORY OF SPAIN.” Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, 19 (February 1873): 140-147.


“A PIC-NIC IN ANDALUSIA.” Leisure Hour, 186 (July 1855): 449-453.


“The PROVINCE of ANDALUSIA. From all the modern Travellers, except Townshend, his Description of Seville having been already given.” Town and Country Magazine, or, Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction, and Entertainment, 25 (November 179): 489-492.


Epton, Nina. Andalusia. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1968.


Moore, E.B. “SPANISH FOLK-LORE.” Leisure Hour (October 1885) 684-688.


Rivers, David. Literary memoirs of living authors of Great Britain, arranged according to an alphabetical catalogue ... and including a list of their works, with occasional opinions upon their literary character. In two volumes. ... Vol. 2. London, 1798. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Wisconsin - Madison.


Swinburne, Henry. Picturesque Tour Through Spain. London: E. Orne, 1808.


-----. Travels through Spain, in the years 1775 and 1776. In which several monuments of Roman and Moorish architecture are illustrated by accurate drawings taken on the spot. By Henry Swinburne, Esq. Vol. 1.The second edition; to which is added, a journey from Bayonne to Marseilles. London, 1787. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Long Title: 

Scott, John. Ruins of the Castle of Las Navas in Andalusia. Engraving. From Henry Swinburne’s Picturesque Tour Through Spain. London: E. Orme, 1806. Each plate is preceded by unpaged descriptive text in English and French. Memorial Library Special Collections. G40 SW6 Cutter.
 
 

Engraver: 

 

Author: 

 

Image Date: 

1808
 

Publisher: 

E. Orne
 

Creation Technique: 

 

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