Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)
Between January and March 1956, Morris travelled from Lagos in the south of Portugal up through the country, passing through Portinho da Arrábida and Lisbon along the way, and ending his trip in Caldas da Rainha on the west coast...
Among the numerous places Morris visited, Portugal was one of the most frequented. Portinho da Arrábida, in the Setúbal Municipality of southwest Portugal, was a place that Morris painted at least three times in 1956. The same view of the cove, looking west towards the distinctive hills that adorn the Arrábida coastline, can be seen in a work currently in the collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery in Wales, Portinho da Arrábida (Cyfarthfa Castle Museum: 43.992). This view was previously thought to have been painted in the 1930s but recent research by Philip Mould & Company strongly indicates that it is far more likely to be the first painting that Morris completed when there in 1956. The present work is thought to be the second work he executed during this visit, due to the inscription ‘No. 2’ found upon the reverse of the canvas.
Morris travelled extensively through Portugal in 1956, accompanied by fellow plantsman Nigel Scott. In addition to this work, during the same trip he painted an alternative view of the bay, looking out towards the Atlantic Ocean: Arrábida, Portugal . It is evident that Arrábida was a place of great significance for Morris, so much so that he produced at least three views of the area. Between January and March 1956, Morris travelled from Lagos in the south of Portugal up through the country, passing through Portinho da Arrábida and Lisbon along the way, and ending his trip in Caldas da Rainha on the west coast. Morris had painted a view of Caldas da Rainha six years earlier in a manner similar to that seen in his earlier Italian landscapes.
Morris would often take long walks when travelling, with the intention of stumbling upon a particularly appealing vista from which to draw inspiration and paint en plein air. Here, the result is a work of free and determined composition. The jagged and exaggerated undulations of the hills are complimented by the sweeping curvature of the bay. The imposing central form of the foreground hill is counterbalanced by the soothing solidity of the expansive blue ocean behind. This is yet another example of Morris’s supreme ability to harmonise contrasting forms and colours into one unified and appealing composition.
It is clear that Portugal was a source of great inspiration for Morris, in particular the richness of the natural colours to be found among the languid coastal views. During one of his numerous trips to Portugal, Morris wrote to Lett from Portinho da Arrábida, stating that he had with him ‘cart-loads of plants and 6 paintings – 4 (of which are) not bad’ (Tate Gallery Archive: 83126.96.36.199). This is most likely one of the works to which Morris is referring, thereby providing a fascinating glimpse into Morris’s creative habits while travelling.
 For all references to other works please consult the exhibition catalogue