THE PROPERTY OF THE HEIRS OF THE LATE DIANA, COUNTESS OF ALBEMARLE (1909–2013)
On 22 June four British batteries, totalling 12 heavy cannon and 38 mortars, opened fire, pounding the Spanish defenders. By the end of the month the British gunners were scoring 500 direct hits a day, inflicting heavy casualties on the defenders and exhausting Spanish efforts to repair the breaches in the walls. This painting shows the inside of the battery, constructed from a timber platform with a parapet of fascines (bundles of brushwood). The gunners wear blue coats, whilst the regular infantry are distinguished by their scarlet tunics. Beyond can be seen the fortress of El Morro, with its formidable defences. On the left is the bell-tower of Havana cathedral silhouetted against the hills beyond. The main harbour lies below, hidden by the trees below the ridge.
Like the view of the Morro Castle before the attack (lot 43) the composition of this painting is entirely unique. It does not relate to any of Osbridge's prints and nor is it found in any later versions by Serres. The painting is also notable in the artist's œuvre for the scale and prominence of the figures, which are such a major feature of the painting and are unmatched in any of his other works. A reduced copy of this picture is in the Museo de la Ciudad in Havana.
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