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Prince Girón de Anglona

A Spanish aficionado at the Roman School of Photography
Helena Pérez Gallardo
Traduction de Caroline Bouché
Cet article est une traduction de :
Le prince Girón de Anglona

Résumé

The name of the Prince of Anglona has been associated with the photography world since 1852, when the English photographer Richard W. Thomas published his article “Photography in Rome” in The Art Journal. Still a biographical enigma even today, this figure linked to the highest families of the Spanish nobility, whose real name was Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Fernández de Santillán, principe de Anglona (1812–1900), was actually a photography enthusiast who rubbed shoulders with the circles of calotype photographers that frequented Rome’s Caffé Greco, and his biography opens up new perspectives on early photographic practices in Spain.

Texte intégral

1Even today, the practice of the calotype technique in Spain remains an unwritten chapter in the history of Spanish photography, offering untapped potential for study. The quantity of calotypes executed in Spain by foreign visitors, together with the unobtrusive role played from the outset by the Spanish photographers themselves, not to mention the dirth of surviving iconographical artifacts and the lack of archival material, have all contributed to the blanket of silence that has surrounded this field of research. Following investigation, however, one of the members of the renowned Roman School of Photography has now been identified as Spanish prince Pedro Téllez de Girón, and this has paved the way for a study of a photographic practice taken up by a number of artists and aficionados from Spain’s social and cultural elite. Incidentally, this study has also revealed that the history of “primitive” photography, by focusing on the Franco-British tandem, succeeded in obliterating many other key players on the European circuit, who despite their minority status were no less significant.

  • 1 Claire L. Lyons, John K. Papadopoulos, Lindsey S. Stewart, Antiquity and Photography: Early Views o (...)

2Ancient Mediterranean architecture was one of the main subjects favored by the early amateur photographers, for whom the camera provided an opportunity to experiment with their cultural preoccupations.1 Italy, and Rome in particular, were therefore a must, either as the final destination on the Grand Tour or as a stopover on the way to the Orient. Along with the emblematic archaeological sites, another indispensable port of call for any foreign visitor was the Caffé Greco. Located on the via Condotti, not far from the Villa Medici and the Piazza di Spagna, and surrounded by boutiques selling prints and artists’ materials, this was a cultural Tower of Babel, where artists and writers of every nationality congregated as soon as they arrived in Rome, to exchange ideas, play and share their experiences in a totally unrestricted intellectual ambience. Art ran through every fiber of the building, with paintings, drawings, medal, engravings and miniatures adorning every wall, lending it an appearance that Stendhal summarized as “both cellar and boudoir”.

Fig. 1. P. Téllez de Girón, “Iglesia de Santa María in Cosmedin en Roma”, salted paper print, 24.7 x 19.3 cm, ca 1848-1852, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.

  • 2 Anne Cartier-Bresson, Anita Margiotta, Roma 1850, il circolo dei pittori fotografi del Caffe Greco, (...)

3With the arrival of the French, British and German and their portable laboratories, echoes of the brand-new art of photography began to make themselves heard in Caffé meetings. The calotype found its way to Italy thanks to two of its key protagonists: the Reverend Calvert Jones, a Welshman, and French couple Dr. Jacques-Michel Guillot and his wife Amélie Saguez, whose four pictures of Rome taken in 1846 feature in the Regnault album, held in the collections of the Société Française de Photographie. An artistic hub, the Caffé Greco soon became the headquarters of the so-called Roman School of Photography2 which comprised artists and aficionados who had been experimenting with the calotype since 1845, such as Giacomo Caneva (1813-1890), Eugène Constant (pre 1820 - post 1860) and Count Frédéric Flachéron (1813-1883). They were soon joined by professional photographer James Anderson (1813-1877), Prince “Giron des Anglonnes” (1812-1900) and architect Alfred Nicolas Normand (1822-1909).

4The first mention of the existence of a Roman photographic circle appeared in The Art Journal, in an article by Richard W. Thomas (1813-1881), a professional chemist based in London, an aficionado and founder member of the Photographic Society:

  • 3 Richard W. Thomas, “Photography in Rome”, The Art Journal, vol. 4, 1852, p. 159.

“ […] many of my photographic acquaintances have frequently expressed a wish that I would publish the method I adopted for making negatives during a four months’ residence in the Eternal City, I have thought it best to forward a familiar letter on the subject for insertion in your journal—should you deem the communication of sufficient importance. In the first place a word about Roman photographers. I need hardly say that their places of rendezvous are the Lépre and Caffé Greco. It will be as well to mention the names of those who are always accessible to the photographic artist, and who readily communicate their experience and practice, with a view, reciprocally, to gain instruction. Foremost, I must place Mr. Robinson, well known to all artists and amateurs of every denomination in Rome. I cannot speak too highly of his courteous bearing towards a stranger who introduces himself as a follower of his favourite pursuit. I am quite sure that any English gentleman would meet with as much assistance as I myself did. Then there is the Prince Giron des Anglonnes, Signor Caneva, M. Constant, and M. Flacheron (this formed in 1850 the photographic clique), and on the whole their method of manipulation is attended with more success than is generally met with in this country.”3

  • 4 See Alistair Crawford, “Robert Macpherson 1814-1872, the foremost photographer in Rome”, Papers of (...)

5The coexistence of professional photographers and intellectuals or artists who used photography for fun or to help them with their research was one of the characteristics of the groups and photographic societies such as the one formed in the Caffé Greco, where the presence of artists or well-known amateurs who had come to the Eternal City to complete their training was quite striking. Alongside the photographers who soon made a name for themselves and are now familiar to historians, such as Flachéron, Constant or Caneva, Richard Thomas also mentioned an amiable artist known as “Sr. Robinson” who according to some authors might well be the English architect Albert Robinson (1820-1868),4 and Prince “Giron des Anglonnes”, who until recently was assumed to be a mysterious French prince.

  • 5 See Sylvie Aubenas, “Autour de Frédéric Flachéron : les calotypistes français en Italie”, Éloge du (...)
  • 6 Helena Pérez Gallardo, Historia de la fotografía de arquitectura europea, 1839-1900, (Madrid: Cáted (...)

6It was the Gallicism in Thomas’s article that led the search in the direction of France, where the noblemen associated with the calotype were legion. The absence of any such title among the French nobility, however, not to mention their Italian and British counterparts, compounded by the fact that not a single picture had been found bearing his signature, seemed to indicate that he was a purely fictional character.5 Nevertheless the title “Principe de Anglona” did indeed exist and belonged to the House of Osuna, one of the Spanish nobility’s most high-ranking families. This possible origin had been overlooked until now, as the pursuit of photography in the Iberian Peninsula in the mid-nineteenth century had not been studied in any depth and there was little proof of the calotype having been used by any of the established Spanish photographers.6

7

Fig. 2. G. Caneva, “Retrato de un grupo de artistas españoles en Roma”, salted paper print, 19.4 x 25.8 cm, ca 1849, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.

  • 7 Juan Miguel Soler Salcedo, Nobleza Española, Grandeza Inmemorial 1520, (Madrid: Visión Libros, 2008 (...)
  • 8 All possible heirs to the title Duke of Osona were christened Pedro, in order to perpetuate the tra (...)
  • 9 See Manuel Ossorio Y Bernard, Galería biográfica de pintores españoles del siglo xix, (Madrid: Ramó (...)
  • 10 “Noticias extranjeras”, La Esperanza, 19 March 1852.
  • 11 Margarita Barrio, Relaciones culturales entre España e Italia en el siglo xix. La Academia de Bella (...)
  • 12 Archivo Histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, Spanish Embassy in Rome, protocol 32.010.
  • 13 Alfredo Escobar, “Una visita al actual Duque de Osuna”, La Época, 26 and 27 October 1896, p. 1.

8According to Nobleza Española,7 the ultimate reference guide to the Spanish nobility, the title “Principe de Anglona” originated in the Kingdom of Sardinia and was attributed in 1767 to Maria Josefa de la Soledad Alfonso-Pimentel y Téllez Girón, the Countess and Duchess of Benavente, who was painted many times by Francisco de Goya. Since that time, the title has belonged to the Duchy of Osuna. In the heyday of the group’s activities in Rome, the title was held by Pedro de Alcántara Téllez Girón y Fernández de Santillán (1812-1900), Marquess of Javalquinto, who hardly features in the history of the House of Osuna. Pedro de Alcántara was awarded the title of “Principe de Anglona” in 1851, on the death of his father – who shared the same name8 – Pedro de Alcántara Téllez Giron y Alfonso-Pimentel, hero of the War of Independence, liberal senator and a close advisor of Queen Isabel de Braganza: it was he who chose the works destined for the royal collections and created the Prado museum, which he directed from 1820 to 1823. At the time of his death in 1851, he was also President of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, an institution that was responsible, among other things, for Spain’s resident artists in Rome.9 Several articles in the press and a number of legal documents show that Pedro de Alcántara, now Prince of Anglona, did indeed mingle with this colony in the early 1850s. In 1853, an article published in the newspaper La Esparanza10 makes reference to a mass celebrated in Montserrat Church for the recovery of Queen Isabel II. The ceremony was attended by the Prince of Anglona and the sculptor Antonio Solá (1780-1861),11 who was in charge of his country’s resident artists in Rome, together with many illustrious figures from the city’s Spanish colony and members of the Spanish Embassy,12 and attests to the Prince’s presence in Rome in Spring 1852, accompanied by his brother Tirso Téllez de Girón, Duke of Uceda. Moreover, two lengthy articles devoted to the Prince published in La Epoca in October 189613 – the year a substantial part of the family collection was auctioned off – confirm that he spent several years in Rome, mainly devoted to the pursuit of painting and the study of art, visiting the inner circles of the art world more assiduously than the drawing-rooms of the Roman aristocracy. An officer like his father, aide de camp to General Fernández de Córdoba and under the command of General O’Donnell during the first Carlist war, Anglona’s enthusiasm for art never waned.

Fig. 3. P. Téllez de Girón, “Arco de Septimio Severo en el Foro, Roma”, salted paper print, 16.3 x 21.9 cm, ca 1848-1852, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.

  • 14 Federico de Madrazo, Epistolario, (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 1994), vol. I, p. 182.
  • 15 Mariano Roca de Togores y Carrasco (1812-1889), Spanish writer and politician.
  • 16 Visiting card, 25 August 1839, in F. de Madrazo, Epistolario, op. cit.
  • 17 His father was Captain General of the island of Cuba from September 1839 to May 1841.
  • 18 “Bellas Artes”, Noticioso y Lucero de La Habana, 5 April 1840, p. 2.

9The first clue to Anglona’s interest in photography can be found in the correspondence of painter Federico de Madrazo,14 who was in Paris with the young Prince when the invention of the daguerreotype first hit the headlines. According to Madrazo, the enthusiastic reception to this news given by the young Spaniards living in Paris at the time was astounding: “Last Sunday, as I was too busy working with my model, I could not spare the time to visit the Daguerreotype. That evening, however, I received a visit from Roca de Togores,15 who described the discovery in glowing terms. He claims it is admirable but has to be seen to be believed.”16 Anglona’s esteem for the invention seems to have prompted him to purchase his own equipment at a very early stage. His father having been appointed Captain General of Cuba in September 1839,17 it seems to have first been put to use there, judging by the simultaneous appearance of the island’s first daguerreotypes. In the words of the local newspaper Noticioso y Lucero de la Habana, published on 5 April 1840: “Pedro Téllez de Girón, son of the Captain General, an enlightened young man and an enthusiastic connoisseur of useful inventions, has had a daguerreotype shipped over from Paris […] The illustrious young man had the immediate pleasure of seeing his first attempt crowned with success, in the form of a daguerreotype copy of a view of part of the Plaza de Armas, showing the Intendencia, part of the army headquarters, a few trees in the center of the plaza and finally the hill to the east of the bay at the far end of the harbor. All this was executed with an eye to detail and perfection that is truly admirable.”18

  • 19 José Antonio Hernández Latas, “Correspondencia entre los hnos. Madrazo y el pintor zaragozano Berna (...)

10Back in Europe and now based in Rome, Anglona’s patent interest in photography probably led him to approach some of the members of the Roman School with a view to acquiring a working knowledge of the calotype process. It is precisely these connections with the artists living in Rome at the time that led this author to envisage the possibility of some of Anglona’s photographs having been collected by the resident painters. Research into the Prado’s recently-acquired photographic collections of painters Luis de Madrazo (1825-1897) and Bernardino Montañés (1825-1893),19 resident artists at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome between 1848 and 1852 under Antonio Solá, has made it possible to identify a number of pictures signed by photographers in the Caffé Greco circle, such as Caneva (see fig. 2) and Flachéron. In the collection of Luis de Madrazo, for instance, three salted paper prints have been discovered, signed on the negative “P. T. Giron” (Pedro Téllez de Girón).

11The photographs depict the Arch of Septimius Severus, Santa Maria in Cosmedin and one of the fountains on the Pincio wall near the Villa Medici. Each picture is exceptional by virtue of its unique status as an artifact of remarkable documentary value. The photograph of the Arch of Septimius Severus (ca 1849), for instance (see fig. 3), is a clear example of the way viewpoints representing the iconography of the city of Rome were transmitted down the ages: here Girón transferred a traced reproduction of the arch with the Foca column and the Church of Saints Luca and Martina, originally etched by Piranesi some hundred years earlier, and featured a characteristic detail, a wheel from the blacksmith’s chariot, which he positioned in the same place, in the lower left-hand corner.

Fig. 4. P. Téllez de Girón, “Fuente de los jardines de la Villa Medici en Roma”, salted paper print, 25 x 19.5 cm, ca 1848-1852, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.

12The photograph of Santa María in Cosmedin (see fig. 1) is also highly significant on account of its unusual frontal viewpoint, which may well have been unprecedented. The church, which was famous for housing the Mouth of Truth, a key attraction for every visitor to Rome, was situated opposite the Temple of Vesta, a monument that had been widely depicted in the early days of photography, but was not photographed in its own right until later. This was probably due to the fact that the focal depth made it impossible to take a complete view of the façade. Santa María in Cosmedin was therefore usually depicted at an oblique angle. This photograph also has rarity value because it shows the original marble, which has since disappeared.

13The final Anglona picture represents one of the fountains in the Passeggiata di Pincio, next to the Villa Medici (see fig. 4). Although the quality leaves something to be desired, it is possible to make out the architectural structure and the sculpture of Ganimede located beneath the central arch. The passageway linked the Piazza del Popolo to the Villa Medici and the Torto Wall by providing direct access to the Villa Borghese and was conceived by Napoleon in 1810 within the framework of his urban development scheme, to make the Piazza del Popolo the main entrance to the city from the north and provide “the Empire’s second city” with an urban space devoted to leisure pursuits. This is therefore the portrayal of an emblematic site, which partly explains its appeal to Anglona, and once again, thanks to the originality of its execution, provides us with a graphic testimony of the era.

14The identification of Prince “Girón des Anglonnes” illustrates the appeal of photography for Spanish artists and intellectuals. Although their output did not match that of their French or British counterparts, it undoubtedly provides an avenue of research in determining the impact of the calotype in Spain and, on a wider scale, retracing the geography of “primitive” photography throughout Europe.

Notes

1 Claire L. Lyons, John K. Papadopoulos, Lindsey S. Stewart, Antiquity and Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites, (London: Thames & Hudson, 2005).

2 Anne Cartier-Bresson, Anita Margiotta, Roma 1850, il circolo dei pittori fotografi del Caffe Greco, (Rome: Electa, 2004).

3 Richard W. Thomas, “Photography in Rome”, The Art Journal, vol. 4, 1852, p. 159.

4 See Alistair Crawford, “Robert Macpherson 1814-1872, the foremost photographer in Rome”, Papers of the British School at Rome, LXVII, November 1999, pp. 353-403.

5 See Sylvie Aubenas, “Autour de Frédéric Flachéron : les calotypistes français en Italie”, Éloge du négatif. Les débuts de la photographie en Italie (1846-1862), (Paris: Paris musées, 2010), pp. 57-61, and the dictionary of calotypists in France in Primitifs de la photographie. Le calotype en France 1843-1860, (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France / Gallimard, 2010).

6 Helena Pérez Gallardo, Historia de la fotografía de arquitectura europea, 1839-1900, (Madrid: Cátedra, forthcoming).

7 Juan Miguel Soler Salcedo, Nobleza Española, Grandeza Inmemorial 1520, (Madrid: Visión Libros, 2008).

8 All possible heirs to the title Duke of Osona were christened Pedro, in order to perpetuate the tradition handed down from the first Duke to bear the title during the reign of Felipe II.

9 See Manuel Ossorio Y Bernard, Galería biográfica de pintores españoles del siglo xix, (Madrid: Ramón Moreno, 1868), p. 241.

10 “Noticias extranjeras”, La Esperanza, 19 March 1852.

11 Margarita Barrio, Relaciones culturales entre España e Italia en el siglo xix. La Academia de Bellas Artes de san Fernando, (Bologna: Zanichelli editore, 1966); Margarita Barrio, “Un escultor español en Roma: Antonio Solá”, Archivo Español de Arte, vol. xxxix (153), 1966, pp. 51-84; Leticia Azcue Brea, “Il Cavaliere Antonio Solá, escultor español y Presidente de la Academia romana de San Lucas Autores”, Boletín del Museo del Prado, (43), 2007, pp. 18-31; La bellesa ideal. Antoni Solà (1780-1861). Escultor a Roma, (Barcelona: Quaderns del Museu Frederic Marès, vol. 15, 2009).

12 Archivo Histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, Spanish Embassy in Rome, protocol 32.010.

13 Alfredo Escobar, “Una visita al actual Duque de Osuna”, La Época, 26 and 27 October 1896, p. 1.

14 Federico de Madrazo, Epistolario, (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 1994), vol. I, p. 182.

15 Mariano Roca de Togores y Carrasco (1812-1889), Spanish writer and politician.

16 Visiting card, 25 August 1839, in F. de Madrazo, Epistolario, op. cit.

17 His father was Captain General of the island of Cuba from September 1839 to May 1841.

18 “Bellas Artes”, Noticioso y Lucero de La Habana, 5 April 1840, p. 2.

19 José Antonio Hernández Latas, “Correspondencia entre los hnos. Madrazo y el pintor zaragozano Bernardino Montañés”, Goya, March-April 1994, pp. 270-281; J. A. Hernández Latas and Piero Bechetti, Recuerdo de Roma (1848-1867). Fotografías de la colección Bernardino Montañés, Saragossa, Diputación de Zaragoza, Academia de España en Roma, Instituto Cervantes, 1997; J. A. Hernández Latas et al., Álbum de Pompeya de Bernardino Montañés, 1849, Saragossa, Institución Fernando el Católico, Ibercaja, 1999; J. A. Hernández Latas, Bernardino Montañés (1825-1893). Arte y erudición en la Edad de la Inocencia, Saragossa, Col. Mariano de Pano, Caja de Ahorros de la Inmaculada, 2002.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1. P. Téllez de Girón, “Iglesia de Santa María in Cosmedin en Roma”, salted paper print, 24.7 x 19.3 cm, ca 1848-1852, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/etudesphotographiques/docannexe/image/3536/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 356k
Légende Fig. 2. G. Caneva, “Retrato de un grupo de artistas españoles en Roma”, salted paper print, 19.4 x 25.8 cm, ca 1849, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/etudesphotographiques/docannexe/image/3536/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Légende Fig. 3. P. Téllez de Girón, “Arco de Septimio Severo en el Foro, Roma”, salted paper print, 16.3 x 21.9 cm, ca 1848-1852, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/etudesphotographiques/docannexe/image/3536/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Légende Fig. 4. P. Téllez de Girón, “Fuente de los jardines de la Villa Medici en Roma”, salted paper print, 25 x 19.5 cm, ca 1848-1852, Museo Nacional del Prado coll., Madrid.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/etudesphotographiques/docannexe/image/3536/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 314k

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Référence électronique

Helena Pérez Gallardo, « Prince Girón de Anglona », Études photographiques, 32 | Printemps 2015, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 16 juillet 2015. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudesphotographiques/3536. consulté le 14 décembre 2017.

Auteur

Helena Pérez Gallardo

Helena Pérez Gallardo is a non-tenured professor in History of Contemporary Art at Complutense University in Madrid. In 2013, she received the Special Doctorate Award for her thesis “Photography and Architecture in Spain (1839-1886).” She has contributed to both the Historia general de la fotografia (Cátedra, 2007) and the Diccionario de historia de la fotografia (Cátedra, 2009). She also been published in exhibition catalogues devoted to the work of Jean Laurent, at the Prado and the Alhambra in Granada. Together with Delfin Rodríguez, she is currently preparing the exhibition “Mirar la arquitectura. Fotografía monumental en el siglo XIX” [Looking at Architecture: Monumental Photography in the Nineteenth Century], to be held in June 2015 at the Spanish National Library.

Droits d’auteur

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