'Cameon's Cave, Macao'
inscribed 'CAMEONS' CAVE' (in the margin)
pencil and watercolour, within the artists's black-lined border
8 1/4 x 9 3/4 (21 x 24.7 cm.)
Camoen’s Cave is one of the most notable and frequently visited sites in Macao. Luis de Camoes, the author of Portugal’s national epic, Os Lusidias, was exiled by Portuguese officials to Macao and took up residence in the cave whilst completing his masterpiece.
The land was originally occupied by the Chairman of the (British) East India Company and when, in 1835, the British moved out of Macao, the site was occupied by a Portuguese merchant who placed a bust of Camoes in the grotto. On his death, the garden came into government hands.
Camoes also celebrated the cave in his sonnet number 186:
“Ye slumbers of the narrow cave
My kindred chiefs in days of yore”
The site was depicted often, most notably by Thomas Daniel in 1810, whose picture is now to be found in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Nicholls’ depiction is close, but not identical, to this oil.