One of the earliest painted views of a Legation building in the Government Art Collection, this watercolour of c.1800 shows an 18th-century villa on a hillside in Algiers. Initially built for the ruling Karamanli family, it continued to be used as the British Consul building until the 1940s. The watercolour shows the building at the time when Consul-General John Falcon was in occupancy. Falcon was appointed Consul-General to Algiers in August 1799 and reached the city by June 1800. However, according to a note published in ‘The Times’ just two years later, it was ‘well known that Mr. Falcon has been long obnoxious to the Dey [of Algiers].’
This uneasy situation came to a head when some local women were discovered in Falcon’s residence, in the company of his servants. The act of receiving Moorish women at a Christian house was viewed as offensive in Algeria and Falcon was ordered to leave the country. When he refused, the Dey reacted angrily and had the British Consul forcibly removed, before ordering all British vessels at the nearby port of Arza to be seized. Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and naval officer Lord Nelson eventually interceded to negotiate a resolution.
A View of the Country House of John Falcon Esq., H. M. Consul General at Algiers
Watercolour on paper
height: 25.70 cm, width: 35.70 cm
Purchased from Dr. R T Longstaffe-Gowan, July 2009
on secondary support: A VIEW OF THE COUNTRY HOUSE OF J. FALCON ESQ.R H.M. CONSUL GENERAL AT ALGIERS
John Falcon (d.1854); Mrs. Falcon, daughter-in-law of John Falcon, Cameston Hall, Bedfordshire; by descent, sale of effects of her grand-daughter, deceased, at a 'Midlands auction house', c1997; bought by Oliver Topham, Old Colwyn, Conway; sold by him to R Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, 2009; bought from him by GAC July 2009
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