Lavery's visit to Tangier in January 1920 was a longed-for return to an old stamping ground. His regular visits which began in 1891 had been temporarily halted after the outbreak of the Great War. Ostensibly there to attend the wedding of his former model, Mary Auras, he also witnessed two notable events - the first was the seizure of the German Legation by the Moroccan government and the second, the funeral of 'Kaid' MacLean, the Sultan's former envoy, and local hero. In the former case he returned to a familiar setting - one which had served him on previous occasions when for instance, he painted The Market Place, Tangier (unlocated) for his 1908 exhibition at the Goupil Gallery. A.C.R. Carter's rich description of this work (Art Journal, 1908, p. 233) could equally serve for the present example when he noted the crowd which 'lives and breathes', the 'reposeful' buildings of the Kasbah on the hill in the background and 'the belt of cool blue sea' beyond.
Following the German defeat in November 1918, its empire was dismembered and its overseas diplomatic missions closed. Keen to free itself from foreign influence, the Moroccan government staged the symbolic closure of the Legation with considerable dignity - the dusty soko was transformed with troops lining the route and on the rooftop, the Moroccan flag was ceremonially raised. Normal trading ceased and in the strong sunlight Lavery recorded this unprecedented spectacle. Few Tangier scenes are so colourful.
We are very grateful to Professor Kenneth McConkey for his assistance in cataloguing lots 42-44, 48 and 50.