The heady days of Amalfi coast indulgence are now too many days behind me to count – it must be at least 250 rather forlorn days since I sampled the paradise of Amalfi, Capri and Positano during a blissful week on the Italian coast last summer. And it has been almost as long since I last thought to paint the place, even though it was on my hotel balcony on the Amalfi Coast that my collection of interpretations began. It was therefore something of a blast from the past when, opening up sketch book the other day in order to start a new gouache project, I discovered a half finished gouache painting based on the Amalfi Coast, left sadly uncompleted.
My feeling with paintings is that each painting has its time, and even when a project goes unworked for some time, it should always be left until the time is again right to continue it. A painting should never be destined for the bin. So when I reopened this hitherto unfinished work, I so enjoyed the breath of fresh Italian air that gushed open my opening it that I decided that the time was right to finish it off, even if it meant completing the Amalfi scene here in my new home of Mallorca.
Interpretation No. 12: Capuchin Monks, Amalfi (2014-15 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)
The painting, which will be the 12th in my collection of gouache interpretative landscapes, was actually based on an old engraving we picked up in Amalfi just before catching a boat back home to Positano. Being a city renowned for its ancient homemade papers, we could not resist buying a print on Amalfi’s finest, and as soon as we found this image, I was captivated. There was something about the alluring tranquil activity of the Capuchin monks depicted, one tying back a vine and the other reading before a view of Amalfi, that made me want to recreate this idyllic scene of the joie de vivre for modern times.
The original engraving we purchased in Amalfi (c. 1880, artist unknown)
A gouache interpretation was born and now, thanks to my rediscovery of the image, it is completed. I am pleased with the relative simplification I have achieved by repainting the scene in broad flat gouache colours, and I have to say that the colour has certainly brought this 19th century engraving back to life. It could almost be modern day except that, sadly (or not for those rich enough to stay there), the Capuchin Monastery of Amalfi is today the swish Gran Hotel Convento di Amalfi, a place from which this view can still be very much enjoyed, albeit sadly without the monks.
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