Carrington was fascinated by the Andalusian landscape and made studies for this painting at Yegen, a town with spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and across the sea to Africa. She wrote of the works inspired by her visits: ‘They transport me into another world. I cannot express quite what a relief it is.’ Despite being based on direct observation, Carrington made this painting back in Britain and the play with scale – between the mountain ranges, the four riders and the cacti in the foreground – gives it a dream-like quality.
Spanish Landscape with Mountains demonstrates Carrington’s fascination with the Andalusian landscape which she visited during her travels throughout France and Spain in the 1920s. The steep, rolling mountains in the foreground of this painting contrast with the jagged peaks in the background, and the impression is of a distant territory, both unfamiliar and alien. In a departure from the blues and greens which dominate her earlier pictures of the English countryside, for example Farm at Watendlath 1921 (Tate T04945), Carrington responds to the Andalusian landscape with vibrant oranges and yellows. The enormous scale of the mountains is emphasised by the inclusion of four mules and their muleteers which are just visible along a narrow path, and the warm climate is evident from the cacti which grows in the otherwise barren landscape. Carrington exploits the sense of isolation in this forbidding terrain, reflecting the exoticism of landscape painters such as James Dickson Innes (1887-1914) and Augustus John (1878-1961).