Watercolour 5

The Fort

1925 – 1926

45.2 x 45.4 cm

The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

The vantage point

We are on the east side of the harbor, to the north on “le chemin du cap Béar”. This dead- end road, as its name suggests, leads to Cap Béar. From the start it overlooks the bay of Port-Vendres with very beautiful views of the harbour, certain monuments of Port-Vendres including Fort Mailly, the Fort Fanal, the jetty and in the distance towards the North the coast of the Roussillon plain, known as the Radiant Coast (Côte Radieuse).

The place where the watercolor was painted overlooks the small hill where Fort Mailly is located.

We are looking to the North Northwest. In the centre the watercolor represents the small hill crowned by Fort Mailly. On the right, there is a breach cut in the rock which was dug to build the road which leads to the sheltering pier.

At bottom left, a bird’s eye view of part of Anse Christine (where a small restaurant was built, with its feet in the water – “Le Poisson Rouge”).

And finally, at the top left, a representation of Fort Fanal, actually invisible from this position.

On the horizon on the left is the Côte Radieuse which extends to the North of the Vermillion Coast (Côte Vermeille).

Pictorial analysis

  1. .”Mackintosh’s vantage point was a spot just beneath Sidi Ferruch (Redoubt Béar), but slightly further to the east than in “The Road through the Rocks.” He rejected the lighthouse seen from that position in favour of the more substantial white lighthouse on the other side of the harbour, on the Redoubt du Fanal. He would have turned ninety degrees to the west to get the view of it shown here together with the distant view of the Cote Vermeille, which he placed on the horizon. The fortified base of the lighthouse seen in “The Lighthouse” was  replaced  with a rocky outcrop.” Translated from English with the kind authorisation of the author, Professor Pamela Robertson, University of Glasgow.
  2. This painting has a beautiful square format, with the horizon line placed very high and with two additional elements invisible from his position (beacon lighthouse and coast on the horizon). Thus Mackintosh has graphically transposed in a very convincing way the landscape he has. in front of him in coloured planes.

The palette made up of numerous colored grays brings out more vivid color contrasts at a few carefully established points.

Historical guideline

As its name suggests, the Mailly redoubt was built by Marshal De Mailly between 1772 and 1789 during the reign of Louis XVI. It was equipped like the Béar redoubt with barbette cannons. The redoubt was altered in 1858 as part of the construction of the line of defense created in the region in the 19th century. Port-Vendres had been declared a military port in 1846,  then more recently in the years 1940-1944 by the German occupation army. It was blown up by an explosion when the German troops left on August 19th 1944. It has remained in ruins, which belong to the town of Port-Vendres.

How to get there

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