Disappointed by the mixed reactions to his paintings of Palestine shown in his 1928 Leicester Galleries exhibition, Paintings of Palestine and Petra, Bomberg decided to leave London for Spain in September 1929. Despite selling only seven paintings however, Bomberg's work was greatly admired by critics P.G. Konody and Frank Rutter. Konody described Bomberg as 'a matured artist, free from affectation and eccentricity, with a style of his own, in which the experience gained from his youthful experiments in Cubism is sensibly applied to the structural emphasis of representational work based on a close and penetrating observation of nature' ('Art and Artists', The Observer, 12 February 1928, sited in W. Lipke, David Bomberg A Critical Study of his Life and Work, London, 1967, p. 65).
It was under these circumstances that Bomberg travelled to Toledo, the Spanish city that El Greco had famously painted. Bomberg told a friend many years later, 'I saw a bit of landscape in an El Greco and that persuaded me to visit Toledo' (sited in R. Cork, David Bomberg, New Haven and London, 1987, p. 180). This visit was significant as it was the first of Bomberg's painting trips to Spain, a country which would shape and direct his work. He developed the new 'style of his own' in Toledo, capturing the southern light's effects on the stunning architecture and surrounding hills. During this visit in the autumn of 1929, Bomberg broadened and developed his colour palette, picking out the details of the city using an array of russets, browns, ochres and blue-greens.
Also notable at this time was his heavy use of pigment. Richard Cork observes, 'He now wanted his art to bear the overt imprint of an intensely physical response. The succulent, heavily loaded marks pressed onto the foreground roofs are handled with a muscular directness which makes us acutely aware of the action of the artist's own hand, wrist and arm. As the pigment travels across the canvas, scoring a vehement diagonal here and asserting an equally strong vertical thrust there, the pattern of abrupt fragmentation becomes reminiscent of Bomberg's pre-war angularity. But the juicy impasto is far removed from the insistent flatness of the young Bomberg's pigment. Rather than pushing his art towards extreme simplification, he now attempted to grasp the full density and richness of the world he so greedily observed' (ibid., p. 182).