Andalusian Pageant is a painted procession of colourful historical personages who played significant roles in the most important and dramatic era in the history of the Iberian Peninsula, the time between the years 711 and 1492 when what are now Spain and Portugal were part of the first Islamic caliphate in Europe. Christians and Muslims clashed and coexisted for nearly eight centuries, until the Christian conquest of the city of Granada in 1492 established Spain and Portugal as Catholic countries, which nevertheless inherited a multicultural past and an ambivalent cultural identity.

These paintings were inspired by the books I have written, which include the story of the last Visigothic king Roderick and his fateful passion for the beautiful La Cava, the tale of the mysterious Lead Books of Granada and the plight of the Spanish Moriscos, and most recently, a life of the last sultan of Granada, Muhammad XI, known as Boabdil, and a history of the city of Granada that underlines the crucial importance of its multicultural past to Spanish and European history.

My aim has been to rethink the genre of historical portraiture by depicting Spain’s medieval history using contemporary painting techniques that reveal ambivalent or controversial aspects of the characters, both Christian and Muslim, central to that history. The pageant portrays kings and emirs, powerful Muslim women and a former slave who became a conqueror, and it embodies allusions to the myths and imaginary ideas of Spain and Portugal’s medieval past, as well as references to its social, cultural and political realities.

Elizabeth Drayson
Emeritus Fellow in Spanish

The exhibition will be shown in Buckingham House Seminar Room from 10am to 6pm each day; please report to the Porters’ Lodge on arrival.