An early work from Somerscales' career in Chile, when he was painting predominantly landscapes for the local market: 'his very earliest landscapes in Chile are almost as though he was painting English scenes in a Chilean context.' (A.A. Hurst, Thomas Somerscales Marine Artist, Brighton, 1988, p.25). He was in fact painting Chile's most atypical lush landscapes, and taking the new train (the tracks laid in 1863) which linked Valparaiso to Santiago to get deeper into the valleys and ranges of the central cordillera, painting in the spectacular Aconcagua, Ocoa and Quillota valleys, Chile's most fertile terrain. For these Chilean landscapes painted in and around 1875, see P. Tupper, Somerscales, Santiago de Chile, 1979, pp.44-6.
Known primarily today for his marine paintings, his shift from landscape to marine began with the Chilean War of 1879 which prompted demand for scenes of Chilean naval victories. Somerscales first visited Chile when he was in the navy, serving in the Pacific Squadron, his ship Clio landing at Valparaiso at the end of 1864. It was when he was convalescing at Valparaiso from malaria caught in Panama that he left the navy and settled in Chile. He took up a career as an artist, taught English, Mathematics, Drawing and Geography at the Artizan English School on Allegre hill above the bay of Valparaiso, and lived in the close-knit British community. He won a silver medal for his three Chilean landscapes included in the Fine Arts section of the Chilean exhibition mounted in Santiago in 1872 (Exposición de Artes e Industrias), married in 1874, and was selling enough pictures to take his growing family to a large house and studio, built to his own designs, on Concepcion Hill just a few years later. Valparaiso was hit by a strong 'Norther' in 1875, which inspired Somerscales' first marine painting, of the corvette Esmerelda, in trouble in the deep anchorage off the port.
'He loved the countryside and particularly the view towards Mount Aconcagua and along the river of that name; he used to join in the social jaunts at weekends to Viña del Mar at the mouth of the Quilpue river, then a property of singular beauty owned by the wealthy Alvarez family, and he took enormous delight in the countryside which, in that area and in that latitude, is quite beautiful and almost unique, being so very different from the popular conception of the arid desert regions further north. He was fascinated by the mountains, and so identified himself with them that, in at least two of his works, he has painted himself into the picture ...' (A. A. Hurst, op. cit., p.28).