Can you identify this town?

In 1905 the American Impressionist painter, William Partridge Burpee left home in Rockland, Maine and took the White Star steamer Romanic from Boston on October 28 for Ponta Delgada in the Azores. There he painted for some weeks and apparently bought a stock of linen canvas that he carried forward on his trip. The canvas is a bit odd and easily identifiable. He then went to Granada, Toledo, Rhonda, and other sites in Spain before heading for Biskra in Algeria and then Marseille and Mt. Blanc. The image of the painting provided is on that canvas and probably of a town in Spain, but I have not been able to identify it. Can you help me?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Are other paintings easy to identify? Are you certain the author wasn't adding a bit of a creative license and that the city actually exists?
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 9, 2017 at 21:50
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    I wrote the book on Burpee and he stays pretty close to observed reality. Apr 10, 2017 at 16:48
  • @copleysquare the problem becomes the 100 + years since the event and the changes that come with time, and other events: some of the fiercest battles of the Guerra Civil occured in the very places where he journeyed. If you could weigh in with more details of his travels, that might help in finding a current day location.
    – Giorgio
    Apr 10, 2017 at 17:25
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    I have provided the total that I know of his locations on the 1905-06 trip. I have also looked at maps for routes between each of those Spanish locations and made an attempt to look at the skylines of each of the major towns on those routes. Apr 10, 2017 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


It could be Toledo's Iglesia de San Andrés. Here's a large modern photo. The extra intricacies could be from a 1975 restoration, which revealed some details in the facade.

enter image description here

Things it matches:

  • He did visit Toledo
  • The shapes of the two distinctive towers and their position relative to each other are very similar. The octagonal (?) tower has windows in the photo but is plain in the painting, but this could be from the 1975 restoration
  • The two unusual doorway-shapes not centred in the rectangular tower - one high, on the right, just below horizontal lines where the colour of the stone changes, the other lower, inside a feint arch-shaped recess, on the left
  • The rectangular tower has a yellowish hue above and around the horizontal lines, and a pinkish hue below them
  • The sloping roof between the two towers. Some other photos show the roof in this photo has a point similar to the backmost roof in the painting - details like windows are different, but this might have changed in the time since it was painted

There are many differences in the surrounding buildings, like the white building in front of the other tower, but these may be from recent changes.

This Flickr album has a few shots across the town with this building visible. None are from the right angle to match the painting, but it does appear to sit atop and amid the other buildings in a similar fashion to how it does in the painting, despite the obvious modern development.

If it's not this building (the painting does look like it might be somewhere smaller than this) it's probably similar enough that the similarity may have been commented on.

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    +1 here is a nice aerial view from Google maps that goes along well with what you suggest, it also shows that the church is on a bit of a hill (not surprising) and that likely the modern building on the right has been added later on.
    – mts
    Apr 11, 2017 at 14:44
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    Nice! It shows something resembling the upward sloping road and wall from the painting, too (obviously much developed since) Apr 11, 2017 at 14:52
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    Feel free to add that to the answer if you find it fitting. The obvious question, how did you go about finding this? Great work!
    – mts
    Apr 11, 2017 at 20:07
  • Ha, blind luck. I had the (wrong) idea that maybe this hadn't been identified because it was of a village destroyed in the civil war, so I looked up some ruined Spanish villages and found one (Roden) with a similar tower - but all the pics were from the wrong angle. So I reverse image searched it and the results included several similar Spanish towers, including this one... Apr 11, 2017 at 23:22

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