Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)
The present view shows the distinctive mountain ridges of St Helena with Diana’s Peak, the highest point on the island clearly depicted in the top-left background of the painting...
In the winter of 1964, Morris travelled to the remote, volcanic island of St Helena, a British Overseas Territory far out to sea in the South Atlantic Ocean over 1,000 miles off the west coast of Africa. The island, which was discovered uninhabited but Portuguese sailors in 1502, is perhaps most well-known for hosting the exiled Napoléon Bonaparte (1769–1821) for the last six years of his life from 1815 to 1821. During his residence there, Napoleon lodged at Longwood House, a former deputy governor’s house situated four miles away from the capital, Jamestown. During Morris’s visit, he completed at least six paintings while stationed on St Helena, including a work titled Distant View of Napoleon’s Residence, St. Helena (1965) (Private collection).
The present view shows the distinctive mountain ridges of St Helena with Diana’s Peak, the highest point on the island clearly depicted in the top-left background of the painting. Standing at 823 metres above sea level the peak is one of three elevated points on St Helena, the other two being Cuckold Point and Mount Actaeon. Diana’s Peak is adorned with a species of evergreen fir tree native to St Helena and can be seen here as an emphasised point upon the ridge.
This is one of Morris’s most successful works from his stay on the remote island. The vibrant hues of the yellow plants in the foreground are set-off against the rich orange petals of the neighbouring flowers. Furthermore the undulations of the plants as they grip to the wind-swept hillside is echoed above in the peaks and troughs of the mountain range behind.