The Alhambra in the University of Navarra Museum

The Alhambra has lent some of the pictures from its photography collection to the University of Navarra museum for display in an exhibition entitled El Mundo al revés: el calotipo en España

The Alhambra has lent some of the pictures from its photography collection to the University of Navarra museum for display in an exhibition entitled  El Mundo al revés: el calotipo en España (The World upside down: the calotype in Spain). The image on loan from the Council of the Alhambra is by Gustave de Beaucorps (1825-1906) and was taken in the Court of the Lions in the Alhambra. Beaucorps is a fascinating subject for those interested in understanding the complex relationship between collecting, dilettantism and photography. The exhibition which is being inaugurated on Thursday 22nd January is curated by Valentín Vallhonrat, Rafael Levenfeld, Carlos Sánchez and Javier Piñar. 
The calotype or talbotype was invented by William Henry Fox-Talbot in England in the 1830s. The procedure differed from its predecessor, the daguerrotype, the first photographic invention, in that it was not based on a single, metallic image. Instead it was based on a process in which the world was reduced to an image captured on paper. This image was a negative, inverted from left to right and from top to bottom, and had just a few tones of black and white. These unusual wonderful takes of real life could be copied thanks to the fact that the negative image could generate an infinite number of copies in positive. Very few calotypes survive today, because in addition to their fragility, only a handful of photographers were able to experiment with them because Fox-Talbot took out a very strict patent in 1841. The first calotype photographers were mainly English and French, and entered Spain in 1849 in search of something different or exotic attracted to the alluring south by the tales of the Romantics and the accounts of travellers. The exhibition contains a total of 160 images, both negatives and positives, many of them from the Museum’s own collection. The exhibits include Annals of the Artists of Spain, the first art history book with photographic proofs on paper, published as early as 1847 and which contains the first images about Spain. There are also photographs by Claudius Galen Wheelhouse, who came ashore in Cádiz and Seville in 1849 and took the first calotypes ever taken on Spanish soil. We can also enjoy the work of the main artists who travelled the Iberian Peninsula, often along dusty tracks, slowed down by bulky, heavy photographic equipment and chemicals carried by mules, trying to capture for the first time on photographic paper a world that for many was virtually unknown. These early photographers included Joseph Vigier, Edward King-Tenison, Alphonse Delaunay, Francisco de Leygonier, Charles Clifford, Gustave de Beaucorps and Louis de Clercq.
Curators: Valentín Vallhonrat, Rafael Levenfeld, Carlos Sánchez and Javier Piñar

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