'In Evening on the Housetop, Tangier, Lavery returns to a theme which had haunted him since his earliest trips to Morocco. As a student in Paris in the early 1880s, he would have seen the work of artists like Benjamin-Constant who were revisiting the languorous world of Delacroix's harems. These, coupled with tales by artist-travellers who were associates of the Glasgow Boys, Arthur Melville and Joseph Crawhall, inspired him to make his first trip to Tangier early in 1891. A number of works shown in his exhibition at the Goupil Gallery, London, in June of that year are rooftop scenes painted above the heat and dust of the narrow streets. In the years which followed, these flat rooftops became one of Lavery's favourite locations. Not only did they provide a desirable vantage point for landscape painting (see Evening, Tangier (lot 53), but they also gave a private space where Moorish inhabitants could sleep of listen to music. These activities are portrayed in a number of important canvases around 1907, such as Evening, Tangier (Birmingham Art Gallery) and The Housetops, Evening (Private Collection). In each case, a white parapet separates the immediate activity of the rooftop from the lush sunlit landscape of the 'White City'.
It is not surprising to discover that on his return from Tangier after the Great War, Lavery rediscovered the life of the rooftops. In compositional terms, the present canvas is broadly similar to the earlier work in Birmingham, in that the parapet runs diagonally from the left, up to a corner near the right edge of the picture. The young woman, who looks out on the landscape in the Birmingham picture, turns to face the viewer in the present example, and two further figures have been added in place of the table and flowers. The palette is also similar, Lavery using the scarlet edging of the parapet to great effect'.
(Kenneth McConkey, private correspondence, 1999).