Anna Lynch’s brightly colored sketch captures a quiet corner of the famed Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, a monument of Moorish architecture whose origins date to the ninth century. The warm tones of the masonry walls are shown in strong sunlight, with the distinctive crenellated wall at left casting a jagged shadow on the façade of a tower pierced by a pair of arched windows. Greenery framing the scene and rising from behind the buildings indicates the dense forest of English elms that surround the complex. The painting’s loosely and rapidly applied strokes of fresh color and its portable support, a modestly sized, lightweight canvas board, suggest that Lynch made this work on site, in keeping with impressionist practice.
Beginning with her 1897 debut in the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual exhibition for watercolors, pastels, and miniatures, Lynch built a solid reputation as a painter of miniature portraits and she also made full-size floral still-life paintings. Later, however, she began to paint landscapes and marines, evidently stimulated by a 1924 trip to Spain. Landscapes and figural works painted there were featured in her small solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago in the summer of 1925. They were enthusiastically reviewed by the critic for the Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, who added, “Of the smaller sketches, there are patios, streets, courtyards and garden walls, all handled with delicate precision and poetic gayety [sic].”i This painting was perhaps one of those sketches; alternatively it may have been the product of Lynch’s return visit to Spain in 1929, when she painted scenes of Seville and the coast presented early the following year in an exhibition at Chicago’s Cordon Club. The beauty and romantic history of the Alhambra had long attracted tourists, including many prospective buyers for Lynch’s portrayals.
Wendy Greenhouse, PhD
Donated by M. Christine Schwartz to the Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois, in 2021
i C. J. Bulliet, “Current Exhibits in Chicago,” Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World, July 28, 1925.