These painters and paintings were mainly concerned with imaginary landscapes and folkloric customs, largely devoid of social criticism. Much of their market was to foreigners for whom Andalusia epitomized their vision of Spain as being exotic and distinct from the rest of Europe. 

In Seville and Cádiz there was a large foreign colony, especially British diplomats and their families, that, to a great extent, determined the pictorial production. These clients wanted paintings of Spanish families dressed in typical Spanish costumes with typical motifs in the background, such as the Giralda bell tower of Seville’s Cathedral or the Alhambra. These Romantic souvenirs of folk themes and scenes of pilgrimages, bandits, gypsies, musicians, bullfighters, dancers, and so on, were in high demand.

The "Romantic Myth" about Spain was also propagated by foreign writers and painters such as Washington Irving, Richard Ford, Théophile Gautier, Alexandre Dumas, David Roberts, John Frederick Lewis, Alfred Dehodencq, and Gustave Doré who developed their own image of Spanish culture, which in turn influenced the first Andalusian romantic painters. 

Local buyers were focused more on paintings that showed the progress of their cities like Cadiz, which grew into a thriving metropolis. It became the national reference of a new society with modernisation and development that promoted new ideologies for the 19th century. The city played an important role as a bourgeoisie society with its emergence and dissemination of liberal ideas.

SPANISH ROMANTICISM - OVERVIEW by Karla Darocas ( KarlaDarocas.com )

The term “Romanticism” is based on the Latin expression, “in lingua Romana” , which alludes to the Romance languages, the vernacular language which represented a cultural identity. This distinguishes the movement away from classical antiquity and shifts it towards a more subjective perspective.

At the beginning of the era, the Spanish War of Independence was the first romantic war in history because it was carried out by individual people organised into “guerrillas”,  small independent groups taking part in a fight against a foreign invader. 

Ironically, this desire to defend the homeland against a foreign invader was actually an idea instilled by France, the Enlightenment movement, and Napoleon himself. When Napoleon entered Spain, he was under the illusion that the Spanish people were ready to be liberated from their oppressive church and state, except no one told the Spanish. However, it did spark the early fruits of a popular idealistic romanticism that produced the first Spanish Constitution, promulgated in Cádiz in 1812. 

The appearance of Romanticism in Spain was conditioned by the escalation of the bourgeoisie; a social class that had made itself rise up in the face of the domination of the aristocracy. This class gave value and worth to the concepts of individuality and subjectivity. The bourgeoisie evolved their own ideology, liberalism, as well as a very determined political sentiment, nationalism. 

Spanish Romanticism in general terms defines itself as a bourgeois art: dependent on the individual, subjective and imaginative, and yet oriented on the value of a once-powerful nation.

The Carlist Wars were a series of civil revolts regarding succession to the throne upon the death of Fernando VII. The liberal factions were aligned with the firstborn daughter of the King, Isabel, and her mother, the Queen Regent María Cristina, while the absolutist traditionalists backed Fernando’s brother, Carlos María Isidro.

These debates and conflicts shook Spain throughout the 19th century by opposing political principles. The Carlists fought under the slogan "God, Fatherland, and King", causing a reactionary opposition to liberalism and defense of the traditional monarchy, the rights of the Church, and regional charters. The liberals, on the other hand, demanded deep political reforms through a constitutional and parliamentary government. 

Hence, we find two polarizing principles which outline Spanish Romantic painting during the first half of the 19th century.

History, as a romantic ideal defining an intellectual movement. Its aim was to exalt past national values, specifically from the Baroque / Golden Age, which was the zenith of Spanish culture and genius. 

Progress, also a romantic ideal, reflected in satirical humour, liberal idealism, imagination freedom, social change, and a rebellion against the restorative tendencies of Fernando VII.