Watercolour 18



38.1 x 43.2 cm

The National Trust for Scotland, The Hill House

During his stay in Amélie-les-Bains in 1924-1925 CR Mackintosh produced this watercolour entitled Mont Alba.

The painting represents a farmhouse: certainly, the Riubanyes farmhouse (Can Riubanyes “Chez Riubanyes”) located in the hamlet of Montalba, which is part of the municipality of Amélie-les-Bains.

In this picture, on the top right, there is a farmhouse in good condition, consisting of two buildings. At the top left, a bridge can be seen spanning a river which must flow at the bottom of the canyon whose steep walls are grey in colour.

In front of the farmhouse and down to the bottom of the picture, there is a green expanse crossed by paths, meadows and on the right a grey-brown expanse: a cultivated plot.

The vantage point

The chair is on the edge of the D25 at the Amélie les Bains exit, in the direction of Arles sur Tech at the entrance to El Castellel: itinerary to see the chair

The watercolour was not painted there. It is thought to have been done near the Riubanyes farmhouse on a path that leads from Amélie-les-Bains to the Riubanyes bridge called “the flag”: itinerary to see the site

At present, the farmhouse is in ruins: it has no roof and is overgrown with vegetation. It is located a little above the bridge on the right when you come from Amélie-les Bains on the D53 towards Mont Alba.

The pretty bridge, the shape of a carved stone arch, spans a gorge at the bottom of which flows and cascades a torrent whose bed is full of numerous potholes (the Mondony).

The D53 is a small winding road that climbs through beautiful chestnut forests with superb views over the mountains and valleys of Vallespir. It leads to the hamlet of Montalba.

Montalba is a former commune of the French department of the Pyrénées Orientales. It was attached to the commune of Amélie-les Bains – Palalda in 1963. Its territory, lying in a south-north axis, follows the valleys of the Mondony and its tributaries.

This charming, isolated and peaceful hamlet is situated at an altitude of 543 metres. To the south of the village is the Roc de Sant Salvador (1,235 metres). Montalba has the distinctive feature of not having any war memorials on its territory.

There, we can discover:

  • The Church of Saint Maire (17th century) located in the village. This building contains an altarpiece from the 17th century and a Virgin and Child from the end of the 14th century.
  • The Church of Sainte Engrâce: (Romanesque church) in an isolated position to the west of the village. It has been saved and entirely renovated by an association.
  • And finally, the remains of the Mondony castle.

Pictorial analysis


  1. This isolated farm, located a few kilometres south of Amélie-les-Bains, was difficult to reach on foot. Carriages, as well as mules or horses with guides, could be hired in Amelie. Mackintosh wrote in December 1925 that he had visited the small church at Mont Alba, ‘very beautiful and delightful’. The Mackintoshes would have passed this farmhouse on their way there, on the road which can be seen crossing the foreground, disappearing around the bend in the road and then reappearing on the bridge in the centre, in the background. The absence of vegetation in the fields suggests that the painting was done in autumn or early in the year. Professor Pamela Robertson – University of Glasgow – courtesy of S.Plas

  2. The composition of this watercolour is highly original: the farm and the bridge being relegated to the upper part. The sky is non-existent. Mackintosh creates a very dynamic rhythm here by using the graphic aspect of the terraced crops. He paints the backgrounds with the same sharpness as the foregrounds. The dynamic effect is accentuated by the way Mackintosh has applied the colour: the brushstrokes are very visible.

Partager :

Like this:

Like Loading...