‘The Spianada, Corfu’ shows the Spianada or ‘Esplanade’, a waterfront park that occupies the area between the Old Fortress (seen on an elevated mound to the left) and some of Corfu’s earliest dwellings. In the centre of Schranz’s panoramic view is a neo-classical rotunda of white marble, known as the Maitland Monument. To the far right is the arcaded passage of a large house. In the foreground, groups of Corfiotes converse and promenade in the long shadows of early evening.
The Maitland Monument was built on an underground water cistern and originally served as a fountain house. It was constructed in honour of army officer and colonial official Sir Thomas Maitland (1760-1824) and completed in 1824. In 1815 Maitland became Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, heralding the start of the British protectorate of the Ionian Islands until 1864. He built the neo-classical Palace of St Michael and St George in Corfu Town, as the headquarters for the Order of St Michael and St George, which he established, and also as a residence for the High Commissioner.
Josef Schranz was born in Port Máhon, Minorca, to an artistic family who later settled in Malta. He was one of three artist sons of painter Anton Schranz. Little is known of his training, although he was probably taught by his father and may also have studied in Italy. Conversant in four languages, including Arabic, Schranz was well-travelled. However in c.1832 he settled permanently in Constantinople. His preferred techniques were watercolour and lithography and he is particularly associated with topographical panoramas and marine painting. Like his father and brother, he painted for a mainly English clientele, who were drawn to Greek revival styles and Greek subjects. Other works by Schranz are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
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