Watercolour 17



51.5 x 51.5 cm

Private Collection on loan to the National Galleries

For this watercolour, there are two chairs: the first is located at the top of the village of Palalda in the car park just before the museum and the second at the foot of the town on the banks of the river Tech, not far from where the work was done:  itinerary  in order to see this chair

CR Mackintosh probably painted this work in the winter of 1923-1924 when he was staying in Amélie-les-Bains with his wife Margaret.

The watercolour depicts the medieval town of Palalda, built on a hill with its old houses entangled and tiered from the bottom (near the river Tech) to the top. At the top of the painting are the bell towers of two churches (right and left) and between them two medieval towers.

The perspective from the chair situated on the “Banks of the Tech”

We are on the left bank of the Tech River at the foot of the medieval town of Palalda, in a small car park on the banks of the Tech. In front of us is the north side of the town which was built on a hill overlooking the Tech. The town has changed little since 1923-1924 with its medieval houses and its narrow streets that wind and climb the town.

Pictorial analysis

“Mackintosh captured Palalda from a lower vantage point on the other side of the Tech from the town. This allowed him to accentuate the verticality of the town’s hillside location and create a varied skyline. The overall grey tone of the image is punctuated by hints of dark sienna and bright green. Mackintosh turned the red of the roofs into a dark grey to suit the darker side of his design. ” Professor Pamela Robertson – University of Glasgow – S.Plas by kind permission of the author

This square watercolour has a similar composition to the one painted at Bouleternère near Ille sur Têt. It is composed of three bands that follow one another from the bottom to the top: the bank of the Tech with its shaded areas so characteristic of Mackintosh’s art, the houses and the castle drawn with care, and finally the sky.

The palette is very sober, this watercolour being thought more in values than in colours.

A bit of history

The bell tower that we see at the top of the village on the right belongs to the church of Saint Martin. This church was first mentioned in 967. It consists of a single vaulted nave dating from the XI-XII centuries. The eastern part of the building was completely rebuilt in the 16th century. The choir has a superb baroque altarpiece dating from 1656 and many other works to discover. Next to the church, not visible from this point, is the Postal Museum, the Museum of Folk Art and Traditions and the CR Mackintosh Interpretation Centre.

The two towers we see belonged to a medieval castle that protected the village, and which were later converted into two imposing signal towers.

The village of Palalda was once again incorporated into Amélie-les bains in 1942, marking the end of its independence obtained when the parishes were divided into communes during the French revolution.

How to get there

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