Bomberg described Ronda as 'the most interesting of the towns of Southern Spain' and its dramatic setting fascinated the artist and provided him with inspiration for a number of paintings. Ronda was built within an extraordinary landscape. Perched high up in the Andalucian mountains, the town is literally sliced in two by a gorge that drops four hundred feet below and joining the two halves is the Puente Nuevo, 'New Bridge', that was built in 1751, taking 42 years to complete. Bomberg explored the surrounding countryside on a donkey, finding suitable vantage points from which to study and paint this remarkable town.
He wrote, 'Leaving my house above, I would sometimes wind my way down the old Moorish path on the edge of the ravine and cross the cultivated valley, climbing up again through the olive groves on the slopes of the opposite ledge, on the afternoons of brilliant Andalusian spring days. Then I would forget everything but the ancient city on its glowing rock until the chill of the mountain shadow touched me - the sun had gone - Ronda was in afterglow and I was packing up to go home. This time, too dangerous to climb down the rocky sharp in the dark, I would prefer to share the roadway home with the peasants and their goats; all of us making for the warmth of the brazier fires of Ronda' (Bomberg, quoted in W. Lipke, David Bomberg: a critical study of his life and work, London, 1967, pp. 78-79).
In the catalogue accompanying an exhibition held in Ronda in 2004, Richard Cork wrote, 'Sometimes he [Bomberg] saw Ronda as citadel of stength and grandeur, an impregnable structure carved out of the austere cliff-face supporting it. On other occasions he stressed its vulnerability, and showed how the dizzy plunge of the rift running across the city undermined the city's fortress-like character' (Exhibition catalogue, David Bomberg en Ronda, Ronda, 2004, p. 21).
The thick brushstrokes which describe Evening, The Old City and Cathedral, Ronda, are typical of Bomberg's working methods. He would contemplate the landscape for a prelonged period before applying any paint and when he began his painting, his knowledge of his subject matter would enable him to paint quickly and confidently. His wife, Lilian remarked, 'He wouldn't make linear marks - he worked direct in the paint. He would work all over, as a unity. And he'd always know when to stop. He was intuitive. If he wasn't satisfied he'd paint it out and the paint it again: he wouldn't come home until he had something to bring home' (L. Bomberg, quoted in exhibition catalogue, David Bomberg: Spirit in the Mass, Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, 2006, p. 88).
The rooftops of Ronda unfold in front of the Andalusian mountains in this scene and echo that of a charcoal drawing of the same date, The City, Ronda, Spain (see lot 173 in the Modern British & Irish Art Day Sale, Christie’s, London, 24 November 2016).