Wyndham Lewis

The Surrender of Barcelona


Not on display

Wyndham Lewis 1882–1957
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 838 × 597 mm
frame: 980 × 740 × 75 mm
Purchased 1947

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 33×23 1/2 (84×59·5).
Purchased from the Leicester Galleries (Knapping Fund) 1947.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, December 1938 (38), as ‘The Siege of Barcelona’; British Council, Contemporary British Art, New York World's Fair and Ottawa, 1939 (68); Toledo, 1942 (45, repr. p.65); Tate Gallery, July–August 1956 (134, repr. pl.10), and Arts Council tour, 1956 (45, repr. pl.2).
Lit: Wyndham Lewis, Rude Assignment, 1950, p.130, repr. between pp.224 and 225; Handley-Read, 1951, pp.25, 28, 31, 44, 55–6, 63–4, 73, 89, repr. pl.16; Letters, 1963, p.503.

Also known as ‘The Siege of Barcelona’. The artist wrote (loc. cit.): ‘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 a change in the time adjustment involved. So that is a little outside the natural-non-natural categories dominating controversy today.’ ‘The Armada’ in the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, is another composition of the same period depicting men in armour.

In 1937 Wyndham Lewis published The Revenge for Love, a novel set in the Spanish Civil War, but he denied any connexion of this picture with that war.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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