top of page

Click on image for larger size​

Watercolour over graphite on paper laid on card, 16 cm x 28 cm, signed lower right "F. Goodall R.A.". SOLD

Santa Maria de la Rábida

The Franciscan friary of Santa Maria de la Rábida is famous for the role its friars are reputed to have played in giving shelter and support to Christopher Columbus when he was planning his expedition to explore a westward route to the East Indies. The friars are said to have assisted Columbus in winning the patronage of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. In 1492 Columbus set sail from the nearby port of Palos de la Frontera on board the Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria on his historic first voyage of discovery to what was to prove to be the New World. The legend that at La Rábida Columbus put in place his final plans and preparations to sail westwards was so resonant that a replica of the monastery was erected in Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. The friary buildings have undergone several programmes of renovation and alterations since the 19th century - most notably, the low walls enclosing the gabled wing in the centre of the watercolour are missing today.

taken a steamer eastwards from Marseilles, to return via the Adriatic and Trieste. Moreover, Frederick Goodall was not yet "R.A." in 1858, with full membership of the Royal Academy coming only in 1863. In the spring of 1871 Goodall called at Naples on the way back from his second trip to the Middle East  (in tragic circumstances: his artist son Frederick Trevelyan Goodall was fatally wounded in a freak shooting accident on the island of Capri). The planned or unscheduled stop-over in southwest Spain could have occurred on the return leg of this trip, which would have meant Goodall's taking the sea route via Gibraltar to England. Alternatively, Goodall could have sailed via the Gulf of Cadiz and Gibraltar on his way out to Egypt in 1870.

In the bottom left-hand corner of this watercolour sketch a man on a donkey has been pencilled in but left unpainted. 

Goodall's father, Edward Goodall (1795-1870), had engraved Turner's topographically fanciful depiction of the friary of la Rábida in the 1830s. "Columbus and his Son", one of a series of vignette watercolours that Turner produced for Samuel Rogers's Poems (Tate, Turner Bequest, D27705), shows the explorer and his son, Diego, being welcomed by friars against the backdrop of a church and monastery cloister that bear scant relation to the real location, which has here been accurately depicted by the younger Goodall. 


  • The Reminiscences of Frederick Goodall R.A. London, Newcastle: 1902                                                        

  • Samuel Rogers, Poems. London: T. Cadell, E. Moxon, 1834

Frederick Goodall RA

The artist's (admittedly far from comprehensive) autobiography published two years before his death makes no mention of a visit to Spain during his long painting career. At the same time, the coastal location of the scene - on the Gulf of Cadiz in the province of Huelva in southwest Spain - places it close to the sea route from the Mediterranean to England. If the watercolour was painted on the spot, therefore, the most probable date is 1870 or 1871, at the beginning or end of Goodall's second trip to Cairo. The first trip to the Middle East in 1858 can be ruled out as he had crossed France and

bottom of page