This painting from 1786 that is in the Palacio de la Zarzuela in Madrid is part of a long commission that the painter received from King Carlos III, which asked him to tour various seaports throughout Spain and paint them, a task he carried out from 1785 to 1792.
Such work must be understood at the specific time it was made, in the period of the Illustration, for which this type of work was seen as an artistic derivation of maps or illustrations of fortifications or flora that were so abundant in those times.
View of the Port of Pasaje de Luis Paret and Alcázar
It is thought that Luis Paret y Alcázar made two of these views per year, although in reality the painter had already made this type of seascape a few years earlier. And surely that is why the king ended up commissioning him this work, which began precisely in the Basque Country, painting this view of Passages, as well as others of La Concha Bay in San Sebastián and the Views of Fuenterrabia adjoining the neighboring territory of France.
One trait ofParet 's views is that he has a penchant for using relatively low horizons, which leaves plenty of room for the sky, which he tends to paint with clouds that give personality to the painting. As well as including numerous scenes andsmall characters, thus providing his good notes of picturesqueness, something that he did not invent, since it was very common in the marine traditions of painting in the Netherlands.
And the truth is that in these characters you can see the quality of the painting of Luis Paret y Alcázar as well as their knowledge of European painting and the artistic currents of The time. For example, in this View of Passages we see in the lower part and in the foreground a boat that is about to disembark, and in it is an elegant lady dressed with an aristocratic demeanor, which without a doubt can be related to the environments Rococo from painting by Antoine Watteau.
There are more features that show the quality of this painter. For example, his ability to compose a view in which the outlet of water towards the ocean is off-centre, giving great prominence to the two rocks that protect the port from the pounding of the sea and serve as a seat for the farmhouses. Which also counteract the low horizon.
Just as it is also worth looking at the lighting treatment of the scene, with the play of shadows and light, or the red of the sunset, the reflections on the water and the shine on the boats. Some details that some historians compare with the late baroque art of Van Goyen.
In short, Luis Paret y Alcázar is one of the most and best trained painters of his time, in addition to the fact that he possesses undeniable quality.