Lewis was working on this painting in the year of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The conflict in Spain was the setting for Lewis's novel 'The Revenge for Love', which was published in 1937. However, Lewis denied any connection between this picture and the book. In 1950 Lewis wrote: 'In the 'Surrender of Barcelona' I set out to paint a Fourteenth Century scene as I should do it could I be transported there, without too great change in the time adjustment involved.' The frieze of soldiers in the foreground can be seen as alluding to Velasquez's painting 'Surrender of Breda' 1635.
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