Watercolour 6

The Lighthouse

1925 – 1926

27 x 37.5 cm

Collection Privée

The vantage point

We are on the east bank of the harbour on the road to the jetty.

This watercolour represents, in the foreground, part of the road to the jetty, where the work was created looking towards the other side of the water, where Fort Fanal is located.

A large part of the top of the picture is occupied by Fort Fanal and its lighthouse.

Fort Fanal is therefore on the other side of the bay at the end of Anse Gerbal, on a small promontory located at the entrance to the port. The Fort’s environment has changed completely. In the centre of the redoubt of Fort Fanal rises a white tower, ‘the Lighthouse’, with, at its summit, a green lantern (situated to starboard), which thus marks the port entrance.

Pictorial analysis

  1. “For this view Mackintosh positioned himself on the coastal path of the Redoute Béar. The simplified forms of the curving path and rock face provide a powerful end stop to the composition. The Mackintoshes could see the lights of the lighthouses from their rooms in the Hôtel du Commerce. A lonely Mackintosh described them to his absent wife: ‘On one side of the harbour green light the other red light but no letter from Margaret – silver light.’ Translated from English with the kind permission of the author, Professor Pamela Robertson – University of Glasgow
  2. Mackintosh, who hardly appreciated this watercolour, however carefully composed it, with the foreground, on the right as a starting point, part of the road plus rocks, leading us to the main motif, the Fort Fanal and the lighthouse.

The afternoon light unifies the different coloured areas where warm and cold intermingle.

Historical guideline

Situated near the sea, the forts were part of the defence of the port of Port-Vendres in olden times, each holding unique military equipment.

Those of Bear and Fanal, constructed between 1673 and 1700, were the works of Vauban. They have been inscribed in the inventory of the historic monuments since the 6 of June 1933.

In the centre of the redoubt Fanal, a white tower rises; the Fanal (‘The Lighthouse’) with a green lantern at its summit, situated to starboard, thus marking the entrance to the port.

Now the lighthouse is entirely automatic (no resident keeper) and has Fresnel lenses. The white halogen lamp has been replaced with a green LED lamp.

A lighthouse already existed before the fort was constructed (it had appeared on a map of 1650). In 1943 the German occupying army concreted over part of the buildings and obscured the ‘slots’. The ‘Redoute du Fanal de Port-Vendres’ is a monument owned by the State ( Lighthouses and Beacons department). It forms part of the inventory of Historic Monuments as a fortified structure.

How to get there

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