Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.
Abstract In this article the changes witnessed in the identities of Spanish aristocratic collections during the second half of the nineteenth century are examined in a case-study focused on the 3rd Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez. To this end are examined, on the one hand, the narratives of noble memory that survived within these collections when they entered the public sphere, a point at which the essentially genealogical character of these collections, formerly established for private consumption, was displaced primarily by aesthetic considerations. On the other hand, the ways in which the artistic patronage by the nobility was presented at this time are reviewed, for this in itself constituted a form of social prestige that contributed to the establishment of new cultural parameters for the noble élites. In the second half of the nineteenth century, a substantial change took place in the strategies adopted by the European nobility in order to maintain their social status. In contrast to earlier centuries of aristocratic dominion in the cultural and artistic fields, it was now the bourgeois élites who administered change in the artistic system, in the transition towards a contemporary world characterized by the institutionalization of the fine arts. These changes gave rise to phenomena that are crucial to understanding the transformation of art collecting in that century: the creation of state museums, the proliferation of art and antiquities exhibitions, the birth of new artistic practices such as photography and growing public awareness of art through the press – all of these drove the nobility to reorganize their art collections, markedly changing the ways in which they were exhibited and interpreted. Despite the predominance of the bourgeoisie, European nobility continued to play a highly significant role in art collecting in this period. In general, art historians have tended to analyse noble collections in the context of the new artistic system, with research focusing on the circulation and trade in works of art1 and on the recontextualization of noble collections.2 Similarly, attention has been given to the interaction between the old nobility and the bourgeoisie, whose admiration for aristocratic cultural rituals is well-known and to which Spain was no exception. The bourgeoisie reproduced patterns in art collecting that were typical of the nobility, such as the progressive creation of historical scenography that took place in noble galleries, but in line with an aesthetic and historicist interpretation of these ensembles which reflected the social and economic power of their owners. Interesting in this respect are, for example, the Rothschilds,3 the Camondos,4 Edouard André,5 Frédéric Spitzer,6 Sir Francis Cook,7 John Pierpont Morgan8 and the influential 1st Marquis of Salamanca.9 In Spain in recent years, emphasis has been placed on individualized study of the historical collections of major families such as the Houses of Alba, Osuna and Híjar, focusing on the semantic development that brought them into line (at least in part) with the aesthetic principles promoted by state authorities with the opening of the first public museums, and corresponding with the emergence of the discipline of art history.10 The present article analyses changes in the identities of noble collections in Spain during the second half of the nineteenth century. On the one hand, it analyses the presence of collections and narratives of noble memory in the public sphere, from aesthetic ideals which complement the essentially genealogical character of traditional collections. On the other hand, it considers how artistic patronage was publicized by the nobility, an activity which, in itself, constituted a relevant element of social prestige and helped set new cultural parameters for the noble élites. To do so, we study here the case of the 3rd Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez, María del Pilar Osorio y Gutiérrez de los Ríos (1829–1921) and, in particular, her husband, the 3rd Duke Consort of Fernán Núñez and 14th Marquis of Almonacid, Manuel Falcó d’Adda Valcárcel (1828–1892). These years no doubt represented the period of greatest splendour for the House of Fernán Núñez, one of the richest and most powerful dynasties of the Isabelline age and important protagonists in the artistic and courtly cultural world of Madrid. Transforming family memory in noble collections A common factor impinging on the lives of the foremost Spanish nobility in the nineteenth century was the law of primogeniture that enabled them to maintain intact a major part of their collections. However, the profound changes that took place in the artistic system, with the institutionalization of the fine arts and the incorporation of the new money-based nobility into these traditional aristocratic élites, transformed the symbolic interpretation of the works collected by some elements of the old nobility. Consequently, although they never lost their original historical value as signifiers of the memory of lineage, during the middle years of the century they underwent a process of semantic transfiguration, whereby items in the collections acquired a new form of aesthetic interpretation.11 In the case of Fernán Núñez, the prime example of this process involved the enamelled gold Moorish horse-harness of King Mohammed IV of Granada, currently in the Archaeological Museum in Málaga. As established by Carolina Blutrach, this treasure was incorporated into the family collection when Martín Alfonso de Córdoba Montemayor, husband of the fifth lady with the title of Fernán Núñez, defeated the King of Granada in the siege of Castro del Río in 1333, and took possession of the harness.12 From that moment, it became a symbol of the family’s military prowess during the conquest of Andalusia. Many generations later, in keeping with the will of the 3rd Count of Fernán Núñez, the harness remained part of the family heritage, but had been pawned in Madrid with other jewels; from 16 March 1714 it was held by moneylender Pablo Antonio Guinuchi. The 3rd Count’s intention was to redeem the harness with his own fortune: once he was able, the Count intended that ‘de sus piezas se formen unas andas para el SSmo. Sacramento y para la Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en aquesta Parroquial de Sta. Marina nuestra Protectora desta Cassa’ [from its parts should be made a float for the Most Blessed Sacrament and for the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe in this parish of St Marina, protector of this House]. In other words, he wished significantly to transform its meaning, giving it a clearly religious connotation. In spite of this, the 3rd Count left open the possibility for the harness to remain part of the wealth linked to the family estate,13 although as the 5th Countess recorded in her will, the harness remained pawned in Madrid in June 1750.14 Finally, during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the piece was recovered by the 6th Count, who linked it again to the family estate, with the clear intention of having it preserved ‘siempre en el mismo estado en que se halla, venerando, y honrrando de este modo, la digna memoria de sus mayores para exemplo suyo, y de su posteridad’ [always in the same state in which it is now found and honouring, in this way, the worthy memory of their ancestors as an example for them, and their posterity], that is to say, the harness was brought back into the family collection as a symbol of the lineage.15 For this very purpose, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the harness was transferred to Madrid from the ducal villa by the 3rd Duke of Fernán Núñez, where it became part of the collection in the family palace on the Calle de Santa Isabel. To exhibit the harness there, a large, glazed display case was specially constructed, with an inscription that emphasized the significance of this relic as an instrument of prestige for the House.16 At the same time, however, the harness underwent an interesting conceptual reconfiguration at the hands of the 3rd Duke. During those years, the nobility could often be found at both national and international exhibitions, which became places of socialization for the cultural and ruling élites of Europe.17 The 3rd Duke lent the harness to several temporary exhibitions where, in addition to highlighting its value as a family genealogical relic, he adapted its meaning in accordance with the specific theme of each show. We find an excellent example in 1867, when the French Imperial Commission presented the 3rd Duke with a medal for the display of this piece at the Exhibition on the History of Work in Paris, where it was shown in the section on harnesses for agricultural workhorses. The French press, however, in addition to its historical value, placed particular emphasis on its artistic character.18 By contrast, at the Retrospective Art Exhibition in 1881, organized by the Permanent Commission for the Greatness of Spain and presided over by Fernán Núñez himself,19 the harness (Fig. 1) was displayed with a view to combining purely genealogical elements with the piece’s artistic qualities, as described by José Ramón Mélida, writing in La Ilustración Española y Americana, where the importance of aesthetic interpretation in noble collecting in the second half of the nineteenth century is well demonstrated: Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide Fellmann y Duhamel, Horse-harness of Mohammed IV, King of Granada (1331), L’Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée. Fig. 1. View largeDownload slide Fellmann y Duhamel, Horse-harness of Mohammed IV, King of Granada (1331), L’Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée. The second object, the importance of which we have already indicated, is a harness in the Arabic style, a rich booty, undoubtedly conquered from the Moor Mohammed at the siege of Castro del Rio, in 1331, by the nobleman [rico-home] D. Martin Alonso de Córdova, Lord of Montemayor and Fernán-Núnez, who distinguished himself with this feat at the head of a very small force. This glorious souvenir from the house of Fernan-Nuñez is composed of: a headcollar, breastplate and crupper, all of crimson velvet with gold plates, worked with delicately carved tracery, and well-combined different coloured enamels, which emphasize the pattern and enrich the object; and also two stirrups, of the well-known Arabic shape, with an openwork design on the base and the same decoration as the harness carved and enamelled on the sides, all in superb and magnificent condition. But it is noteworthy that the front of the headcollar is made in the Renaissance style, and seems to us to be from the 16th century: it has a billet at the front, and on the sides compartments and ornaments which are very different from the Arabic style; although some small bells, which hang from the whole front of the headcollar, contribute to giving it this appearance and fit in well with the rest of the harness. It can be seen that the ornaments and enamels of this whole piece are imitations of the genuine part, but made with a delicacy which the Arabic work lacks. Other parts of the object reveal pieces of a similar character to the front of the headcollar, which lead us to believe that it was all restored in the 16th century, with the aim, it would seem, of conserving it and showing it intact. We regret that in some objects, like this last one, their merit has been denatured or decreased, although not their importance; but as impartial narrators we feel it our duty to present the truth.20 Similarly, another object which shows this process of semantic transformation of the family collection was the standard of the Royal Navy of the Ocean Sea. In its original state, this piece of a sail from one of the Turkish galleys that took part in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was a military relic brought to the House by Alonso Gutiérrez de los Ríos y Sotomayor, 13th Lord of Fernán Núñez. However, at the end of the seventeenth century, the 3rd Count reconfigured the meaning of this relic by having it sewn on to a large red damask silk standard depicting a religious scene attributed to the painter Francisco Meneses Osorio.21 The work was located in the main chapel of the Church of Santa Marina in Fernán Núñez, the main focus of family patronage, thus adopting a marked religious and genealogical significance.22 At the end of the following century, in May 1787, the 6th Count decided that the ‘estandarte real se pasará al pintor de Cordova para que lo forre, renueve y ponga esclavado a un palo redondo en que se enrrollará como un mapa y se tendrá guardado en una arca de su tamaño con tres cerraduras, a fin de que se conserve como es devido tan digna memoria’ [the royal standard should be taken to the painter from Cordova to be lined, renewed and nailed to a round staff on which it will be rolled up like a map, and be kept in a trunk of the same size with three locks so that such a worthy memorial be conserved as is fitting]. Later, it was shown on the palace balcony during public receptions due to its importance in commemorating the past glories of the ancestors of the lineage (Fig. 2).23 Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide Francisco Meneses Osorio, Standard from the Ducal House of Fernán Núñez, Naval Museum, Madrid. Fig. 2. View largeDownload slide Francisco Meneses Osorio, Standard from the Ducal House of Fernán Núñez, Naval Museum, Madrid. With a particular view to its artistic value, the 3rd Duke proposed sending the standard to the Palace of Fine Arts for the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona in 1888, together with other works acquired in the Salons.24 However, its enormous size made it impossible to transport and to accommodate at the Barcelona fair. Finally, years later and on the initiative of the 5th Duke, the size of the work proved no longer an obstacle when it was shown at the Latin American Exhibition in Seville in 1929: there it was considered a work of special interest attributed to the Sevillian painter Meneses Osorio, indicating that the aesthetic significance of noble collections had become fully established by the early twentieth century.25 The musealization of the nobility’s artistic patrimony The nineteenth century saw the consolidation of the new artistic system as the old nobility gradually adapted its collections from playing a role in genealogical legitimation towards an aesthetically-based conception, always with a view to following the model offered by Paris.26 It therefore comes as no surprise that many nobles spent long periods in the French capital, participating in the French cultural scene which, to a great extent, allowed them to become familiar with contemporary discourse in the fine arts and to carry these practices back to Spain. This interest in the fine arts, together with the privileged position still held by the noble élites in state administration, enabled the nobility to become involved in the consolidation of the new artistic system within Spain. Pierre Géal underlines how French influence and noble involvement in academic, museum and exhibition management in Spain improved the accessibility of noble collections, as owners applied these aesthetic canons to their own collections and began the progressive musealization of palace rooms.27 In the case of the House of Fernán Núñez, the decoration of the family palace in Madrid during the middle decades of the 1800s is indicative of this gradual change towards the contemporary artistic system, with the genealogical aspect of the collections coexisting with purely artistic appreciation, until the latter began to prevail in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, as a result of the definitive abolition of primogeniture and the consequent depreciation of the historical nature of noble collections. Thus from the 1850s onwards, private correspondence and social announcements published in the press reveal the reorganization of the symbolic capital of the Fernán Núñez collections. The salons established on the representative floor of the palace were, to all intents and purposes, museums designed to exhibit works acquired at fine arts exhibitions, at the same time presenting the symbolic mutation of the antique pieces they incorporated.28 So much so that the palace was defined by the chroniclers as a combination of a ‘rich fine arts museum’ and an ‘archive of glorious and imperishable historical memories’.29 Apart from these two attributes, however, chroniclers focused mainly on the capacity for artistic patronage of the owners of the ducal house, underlining above all the other initiatives, the acquisitions made by the 3rd Duke at the National Fine Arts exhibitions of works by artists like Vicente Palmaroli, Eduardo Zamacois or Eduardo Rosales.30 Such chronicles gave him an optimal reputation with the public, showing the exercise of his patronage to be in line with good practice as defined by the new artistic system.31 Indeed, we can see that in February 1875, what most concerned Fernán Núñez when commissioning Últimos momentos de un torero sobre la arena del circo from the Catalan sculptor Rosendo Novas (Fig. 3), was the opinion of visitors to his palace and their aesthetic appreciation of the work. This aspect was emphasized when he installed the piece in its definitive location, declaring to the sculptor that he was ‘sumamente satisfecho de su construcción que es de mi mayor agrado y del de cuantas personas la han visto y tengo un placer en manifestarlo por escrito á mas de que su dicho discípulo se lo dirá de palabra’ [extremely satisfied with the statue, which is greatly appreciated by me and by all those who have seen it, and I have pleasure in expressing this in writing, in addition to which your aforesaid disciple will tell you in person].32 Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide Rosendo Novas, Last moments of a bull fighter on the sands of the arena, Fototeca del Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España. Fig. 3. View largeDownload slide Rosendo Novas, Last moments of a bull fighter on the sands of the arena, Fototeca del Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España. Around the same time, this incipient musealization of the palace collections was evidenced by the new frames placed around the canvases, with the names of the most famous artists displayed on plaques. In this regard, the terminology used was also a clear sign of the change in attitude towards the collections and their new artistic consideration as part of art-historical discourse. A good example of this is formed by the photographs of the palace rooms taken in 1877 by French photographer Jean Laurent, bearing explicit titles like Statue Gallery or Portrait Hall (Fig. 4).33 Fig. 4. View largeDownload slide Jean Laurent, Hall of the portraits in the palace of the Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez, Fototeca del Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España. Fig. 4. View largeDownload slide Jean Laurent, Hall of the portraits in the palace of the Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez, Fototeca del Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España. Similarly, allusions of a genealogical nature coexisted with the aesthetic values of the works held in noble collections. By way of example, Goya’s family portraits of the 6th and 7th Counts of Fernán Núñez were praised exclusively with regard to their artistic nature,34 with no reference to the personalities of these outstanding members of this lineage. The extensive series of portraits of the Cervellón family, ancestors of the 2nd Duke Consort, were completely ignored, since they were not works of recognized aesthetic value, despite their genealogical importance. Therefore, as demonstrated by descriptions dating from the early twentieth century (as well as by their genealogical function), the family’s palace collections were what gave them their differential value both in museum terms and in their artistic value, compared to other buildings owned by their peers: A splendid museum is the one installed in the Palacio de Cervellón, where Art and History have found a privileged and reverential place. The family that lives there are deservedly leading figures of the Spanish aristocracy. A model of its kind, the museum maintains the praiseworthy tradition of love for the artistic, and (unlike other devastating examples of the nobility who squander the inheritance of their elders), it supports the most worthy traditions.35 Publicizing collecting by noble families in the press Another significant example of the way changes in the artistic system affected the social habits of the nobility can be seen in the public meaning they ascribed to the reception of their collections with the aim of obtaining much greater social prestige – going beyond the limited sphere for which these collections had traditionally been established. For this purpose, the nobles used the press, the main means of communication of the era, to construct an image of prestige based on the permanence of tradition and an interest in culture and art as symbols specific to this social group. Thus, from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, press publicity became a prominent instrument in attesting to the distinction of particular noble families, presenting information on their acquisitions, commissions and other matters involving both patrons and artists.36 The 3rd Duke of Fernán Núñez perfectly illustrates these new practices of artistic legitimation on the part of noble élites, through the emphasis placed on the public reception of his artistic endeavours. Clear examples include the commissioning of descriptions of the famous balls held in his family palace on the Calle de Santa Isabel37 and the extraordinary scrapbook of press cuttings from French and Spanish daily newspapers, the contents of which dealt mainly with the ostentation which he displayed during his ambassadorship in Paris between 1881 and 1883:38 It is not true that the expenses of installing our new embassy have exceeded the budget and that recourse must be made to the funds of the sacred work of Jerusalem to pay for them. Judging by the grandiose nature of our installation and the richness of the new lodging for our representatives here, it seems natural; but those who know the excellent administrative talents of the Duke of Fernán-Núnez, one of the few great men who know how to combine luxury with economy, will find it easy to understand the miracles which have been achieved with such little money as was available for the installation, bearing in mind that our ambassador in Paris has to take care, and indeed takes even more care, of the money of the Spanish people than he does of his own – and he takes very good care of his own.39 In the field of artistic patronage, he was one of the most assiduous patrons of the second half of the nineteenth century,40 so much so that his regular attendance at fine-arts salons and national exhibitions was chronicled in detail in both the national and foreign press of the time. It was with good reason that his Madrid palace was described in the pages of the daily El Campo as an ‘artistic museum, artistic gallery or house-museum’.41 A good example of his interest in artistic innovations was presented when he commissioned his portrait in 1865 from painter Eduardo Rosales, who had triumphed in the national fine arts exhibition of the previous year. His arts patronage was reflected by the press of the era, where he was assiduously praised: The Duke of Fernán-Núñez has acquired the beautiful painting that features in the current fine arts exhibition as number 201, an original by the famous young artist Mr Palmaroli, which represents a country girl from the Naples area called Pascuccia. Mr Palmaroli was paid more than the asking price for his picture. The noble generosity of the Count of Fernán-Núñez, and the protection which he thus provides for Spanish arts, are worthy of exceptional praise.42 Aside from this praise in the press (which was also regularly accorded to other members of the noble élites), it is especially interesting to note the way the 3rd Duke used the press to publicize his artistic commissions, thus raising the profile of his trajectory as a public figure dedicated to politics, since he was both a senator and Spanish ambassador in Paris. We know, for instance, about the promotion he mounted in the pages of La Ilustración de Madrid for Rosendo Novas’s work, Últimos momentos de un torero sobre la arena del circo después de una cogida, a plaster piece presented at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1871 (where it was awarded the second class medal), or Flora by José Casado del Alisal (Fig. 5), an engraving of which was announced in La Ilustración Española y Americana. Both were acquired for his Madrid palace.43 Fig. 5. View largeDownload slide Alfredo Perea y Arturo Carretero, Flora, painting by the most excellent Mr. José Casado del Alisal, no. 107 in the Catalogue [Acquired by the most excellent Duke of Fernán Núñez], La Ilustración Española y Americana. Fig. 5. View largeDownload slide Alfredo Perea y Arturo Carretero, Flora, painting by the most excellent Mr. José Casado del Alisal, no. 107 in the Catalogue [Acquired by the most excellent Duke of Fernán Núñez], La Ilustración Española y Americana. But most interest was aroused in the press by the public competition organized by the 3rd Duke and announced in the pages of La Gaceta on 17 March 1868 with the aim of ‘pintar un cuadro que represente una batalla o un episodio de la guerra de África en que figure el general en jefe del ejército español’ [painting a picture depicting a battle or episode in the African War featuring the General-in-Chief of the Spanish army].44 The idea was to commemorate the figure of Leopoldo O’Donnell, 1st Duke of Tetuán, who died on 5 November 1867,45 while at the same time referring to an exhibition theme that was fashionable at that time for its patriotic nature: episodes from the African War (Fig. 6).46 The conditions of the competition were as follows: Fig. 6. View largeDownload slide Eduardo Rosales, The Battle of Tetuán, Prado Museum, Madrid. Fig. 6. View largeDownload slide Eduardo Rosales, The Battle of Tetuán, Prado Museum, Madrid. The artists who take part in it must be Spaniards, and must present their sketches at no. 42, Calle de Santa Isabel, within four months from today’s date. The fee for the painting will be 6,000 escudos. It should be 2.40 metres wide and 1.50 metres. Sketches should be a quarter the size of the painting. The Duke of Fernán Núñez is the author of this initiative and will pay for the painting.47 Press coverage of the initiative was remarkably extensive, and (unsurprisingly) more than twenty artists presented even their sketches in oil – undoubtedly due to the high reward offered. La Correspondencia española reported that the study by Ramón Soldevila had not been accepted, having been handed in after the deadline.48 According to the Revista de bellas artes e histórico-arqueológica, Eduardo Rosales was thinking about entering the competition at the request of the duke himself, and eventually did so.49 Ultimately, the duke chose the proposal presented by Vicente Palmaroli, and paid for him to travel to Morocco to do some research, where the duke’s administrator Carlos García Llaguno reported on the artist’s progress.50 But it is especially interesting to note that the press continued to keep the public informed about the whole creative process until the work was finished in 1870,51 as well as its subsequent presentation at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts the following year.52 Although reviews of Palmaroli’s work were highly unfavourable, the 3rd Duke nevertheless continued to obtain the publicity he sought with his policies of artistic legitimation: The artist has been less fortunate in transferring to canvas one of our few contemporary feats. The painting representing the Battle of Tetuán (no. 361) is a true misfortune. What a jumbled composition! What incorrect and careless drawing! What confusion of terms and groups! What badly proportioned and unsympathetic figures! What horses! What everything! And above all these defects, the worst is the need for glasses to even see the hero of this glorious feature of war. It is very sad that a matter so worthy of being painted should have been done with such misguided inspiration or so little research, and in such a clumsy and insignificant manner. This work is unworthy of Palmaroli, and the low quality of its execution is not worthy of the patron’s generosity.53 Party society and the new aristocratic habits of the nobility The holding of parties presents another good example of the new narratives concerning noble memory, introduced to the public sphere and promoted by the Spanish nobility in the second half of the nineteenth century.54 Again they used the press as their main instrument of social legitimation, constructing a favourable image for the interests of the group. New cultural and artistic activities like historical costume balls, tableaux vivants, the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts and photography, were fundamental elements in the new symbolic capital constructed by the nobility in a moment of crisis for their traditional legitimizing narrative, and in the face of the ideological, social and economic change taking place in the cultural model’s transition to the contemporary world. In the final years of the reign of Isabella II, within the context of entertainment in Madrid, historical costume balls were the height of fashion, most often being held during Carnival. The Fernán Núñez family were among the most prolific organizers of this type of dance at the end of the nineteenth century and acquired a great deal of their public profile through their sponsorship of them.55 But our interest in these aristocratic gatherings resides mainly in the fact that they permitted the creation of an innovative iconography of the noble élites which, beyond their recreational function, provided strategies of visibility and an image of power far removed from traditional mechanisms and strongly influenced by paintings on historical themes presented at the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts and by the cultural phenomenon of tableaux vivants, immortalized in the new medium of photography. From the 1860s onwards, the 3rd Duke and Duchess began to determine the formal bases of their historical costume balls, establishing new formulae for the identification and publicizing of noble power. The linking of these festivities with the new artistic system was very evident. On most occasions, the historical themes of these balls reproduced those that had proved popular at the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts. It is well known that the creation of this system of exhibitions provided the seal of approval for the birth of the contemporary artistic system in Spain, endowing artists and their patrons with a heightened public profile.56 Held from 1856 onwards, the exhibitions adopted different thematic categories, with an emphasis on historical paintings reflecting outstanding feats and personalities from the Hispanic past in an iconographical programme that ultimately was used as an instrument to reinforce the nationalism of Isabelline society, with members of the aristocratic élites among its most prominent patrons.57 For this reason, it comes as no surprise that, during the 1860s, major exhibition themes like the Catholic Monarchs, Joanna the Mad, Charles V or Don Quixote were also the topics chosen for the Fernán Núñez fancy dress balls. And this was precisely the subject matter of a chronicle on the party organized by the 3rd Duke and Duchess in 1884, which described the clothes worn by the Marchioness of Molins, ‘que iba vestida de doña Juana la Loca, y había tal semejanza en todo su traje, peinado y tocas, con la doña Juana del famoso cuadro de Pradilla, que cualquiera hubiera creído era la misma que se habia escapado del lienzo para gozar de una noche de expansión’ [who was dressed as Joanna the Mad and was so alike in all her dress, hairstyle and veils to Joanna in the famous painting by Pradilla, that anyone might have thought she was the same person, escaped from the canvas to enjoy a night of amusement] (Fig. 7).58 This thematic transference shows the extent to which the new artistic system influenced the cultural aspects of the nobility. Guests competed to don the most faithful and luxurious costumes of the era inspired by the paintings of Eduardo Rosales or Francisco Pradilla, using designs by the most renowned Spanish and foreign fashion designers, including Fernando Cambrils and Charles Frederick Worth.59 Fig. 7. View largeDownload slide Angel Alonso Martínez, Fancy dress ball of the Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid. Fig. 7. View largeDownload slide Angel Alonso Martínez, Fancy dress ball of the Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid. Moreover, the cultural practice of tableaux vivants and their distribution through photography brought this festive image of the nobility to a wider public. Very popular in the second half of the nineteenth century, tableaux vivants represented historical events interpreted by groups of people in scenery specially created for the occasion.60 A global spectacle with iconography drawn from painting, as well as history, literature and music, they were mainly performed in royal and aristocratic salons. In Spain, as Ángeles Ezama Gil has pointed out, this entertainment was introduced in the 1840s by the 8th Countess Consort of Montijo, María Manuela KirkPatrick, at the suggestion of her friend Prosper Mérimée, although it was Trinidad Scholtz Hermensdorff, Marchioness of Belvis de las Navas and wife of the Mexican ambassador, who popularized them later at the end of the century.61 The 3rd Duke and Duchess undertook to disseminate this cultural practice at the parties organized in their palace, giving it a central role in the festive ritual.62 The different groups posed for guests during the ball, and later on posed in scenery which became increasingly sophisticated over the years, thanks to the designs of academic artists. The resulting scene was then immortalized in photographs (Fig. 8).63 Fig. 8. View largeDownload slide Julio Comba, Presentation of the group La commedia dell’arte, La Ilustración Española y Americana. Fig. 8. View largeDownload slide Julio Comba, Presentation of the group La commedia dell’arte, La Ilustración Española y Americana. It is well known that the aristocracy took an interest in photography from its inception in 1839, although it was the innovation of the carte de visite by French photographer André Disdéri in 1854 – with its smaller format and lower cost – that generated a new approach to aristocratic portraiture and a boom in its distribution, leading to the collecting of portraits of celebrities and the birth of the photograph album.64 Between the 1860s and 1880s, the 3rd Duke and Duchess engaged major photographers of the day like André Disdéri, Jean Laurent, Ángel Alonso Martínez and Pedro Martínez de Hebert, and used the visiting cards they made to circulate portraits, both individual and group, of the costumes worn at their parties.65 These portraits were designed to be distributed not only in noble circles, but also to reach the widest public possible, as shown by window displays in the popular store Schropp in April 1863: The windows of the Schropp store are attracting the attention of passers-by on Montera Street, because of the portraits on display of people who attended the Duke and Duchess of Fernan-Nuñez’s fancy dress ball. These portraits, which will form part of the album whose publication has already been announced, feature photographs of different groups attending the party, including the Calabrians. It goes without saying that this gives people with nothing else to do a reason to invade the pavement and hinder the passage of pedestrians.66 These portraits therefore rendered visible the identity values of the noble group, exhibiting its status essentially through the historical personages they represented and the richness of the costumes and jewellery they wore.67 But, above all, the identities of their wearers could be substituted for others evoking the values of the absolutist tradition, and consequently linked to the old nobility. An example of this is how, at the Fernán Núñez parties, Queen Isabella II drew parallels between her own person and other great queens in history like Esther or Isabella I of Castile, iconographies that pursued the reinforcement of the image of Isabella II’s power as the heiress of such outstanding legends, despite her increasingly weakened political influence.68 Conclusion For the old Spanish nobility, the second half of the nineteenth century was a period of crisis for its traditional legitimizing discourse as a consequence of the change in the ideological, social and financial system which accompanied the transition to the cultural model of the contemporary world. This case-study focusing on the 3rd Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez has presented some of the most significant narratives of family memory circulated in the public sphere, as fostered by the nobility in the second half of the nineteenth century. For this they used the press as their main instrument of social legitimation, thus fashioning an image favourable to the group’s interests, where new artistic practices (like collecting and contemporary patronage), the public character of aristocratic collections, the tableaux vivants organized at noble parties, and photography, all constituted fundamental elements of a new symbolic capital constructed by the nobility with the aim of continuing to reflect their privileged position in society. Acknowledgements Research for the present article was carried out within the framework of the project ‘Politics in Transition for the Legitimation of Nobility: Memory and history in art collecting and domestic set designs of the Spanish nobility (1788–1931)’, har2015-66311-p of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. I would like to thank Professor Antonio Urquízar Herrera for his advice on improving this article. Footnotes 1 G. Fyfe, Art, Power and Modernity. English art institutions, 1750–1950 (London, 2000); M. Preti and P. Sénéchal, Collections et marché de l’art en France, 1789–1848 (Rennes, 2005); M. D. Jiménez-Blanco and C. Mack, Buscadores de belleza. Historias de los grandes coleccionistas de arte (Barcelona, 2007); M. Preti and R. Panzanelli (eds), La circulation des ouvres d’art 1789–1848 (Rennes, 2007); Ch. Gould (ed.), Marketing Art in the British Isles, 1700 to the Present (London, 2012); P. Fletcher, The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London: 1850–1939 (Manchester, 2013); A. Swenson, The Rise of Heritage: Preserving the past in France, Germany and England, 1789–1914 (Cambridge, 2013); T. Chang, Travel, Collecting and Museums of Asian Art in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Oxford, 2013); J. Hamilton, A Strange Business: Making art and money in nineteenth-century Britain (London, 2014); M. Preti, Ch. Vogtherr and G. Faroult, Delicious Decadence: The rediscovery of French eighteenth-century painting in the nineteenth century (London, 2014). On Spain, see O. E. Vázquez, Inventing the Art Collection. Patrons, market, and the State in nineteenth-century Spain (Pennsylvania, 2001); C. Reyero Hermosilla, ‘El valor del precio. Tasación y compraventa de pinturas en el Madrid isabelino (1850–1868)’, E-arts documents. Revista sobre colleccions & colleccionistes 1 (2009); M. D. Antigüedad and A. Alzaga (eds), Colecciones, expolio, museos y mercado artístico en España en los siglosxviiiyxix (Madrid, 2011); F. Pérez Mulet and I. Socias (eds), La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglosxixyxx (Barcelona, 2011); M. J. Martínez Ruiz and J. M. Merino de Cáceres, La destrucción del patrimonio artístico español. W. R. Hearst: ‘El gran acaparador’ (Madrid, 2012); I. Socias and D. Gkozgkou (eds), Nuevas contribuciones en torno al mundo del coleccionismo de arte hispánico en los siglosxixyxx (Gijón, 2013); M. D. Jiménez-Blanco, El coleccionismo de arte en España. Una aproximación desde su historia y su contexto (Madrid, 2013); M. J. Martínez Ruiz, ‘Dime qué expones y te diré qué vendes. El oscuro negocio de las antigüedades bajo el respetable amparo del coleccionismo artístico’, in I. Socias and D. Gkozgkou, El arte hispánico en las exposiciones internacionales (Milan, 2014), pp. 125–48; B. Bassegoda and I. Domènech, Mercat de l’art, col·leccionisme i museus. Estudis sobre el patrimoni artístic a Catalunya als seglesxixixx (Barcelona, 2014); E. Alsina Galofré and C. Beltrán Catalán (eds), El reverso de la historia del arte: Exposiciones, comercio y coleccionismo (1850–1950) (Gijón, 2015); P. Martínez Plaza, ‘El mercado de pintura en Madrid durante el último cuarto de del siglo xix’, in E. Holguera Cabrera, E. Prieto Ustio and M. Uriondo Lozano, Coleccionismo, mecenazgo y mercado artístico en España e Iberoamérica (Seville, 2017), pp. 776–91. 2 F. Haskell, Las norme et le caprice. Redécouvertes en art: aspects du goût et de la collection en France et en Angleterre 1789–1914 (Paris, 1986); K. Pomian, Des saintes reliques à l’art moderne. Venise-Chicago,xiiie-xxesiècles (Paris, 2003); A. MacGregor, Curiosity and Enlightenment: Collectors and collections from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century (New Haven and London, 2007). 3 P. Prevost-Marcilhacy, Les Rothschild, bâtisseurs et mécènes (Paris, 1995); P. Prevost-Marcilhacy (ed.), Les Rothschild. Une dynastie de mécènes en France (Paris, 2016). 4 N. Seni and S. Le Tarnec, Les Camondo ou l’éclipse d’une fortune (Arles, 1997); A. H. Hoog (ed.), La splendeur des Camondo. De Constantinople à Paris, 1806–1945 (Paris, 2009). 5 V. Monnier, Édouard André. Une famille, un homme, une collection: De la banque au musée Jacquemart-André (Nîmes, 2014). 6 P. Cordera, La fabrica del Rinascimiento. Frédéric Spitzer mercante d’arte e collezionista nell’Europa delle nuove Nazioni (Bologna, 2014). 7 E. Dazinger, ‘The Cook collection, its founder and its inheritors’, Burlington Magazine 146 no. 1216 (2004), pp. 444–58; J. Conlin, ‘Collecting and connoisseurship in England, 1840–1900: the case of J. C. Robinson’, in British Models of Art Collecting and the American Response: Reflections across the Pond, ed. I. Reist (London, 2014), pp. 133–44; S. J. Pierson, Private Collecting, Exhibitions, and the Shaping of Art History in London: The Burlington Fine Arts Club (London, 2017), pp. 36–7. 8 J. Strouse, ‘J. Pierpont Morgan: financier and collector’, Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 no. 3 (2000), pp. 4–64. 9 J. J. Zapata Vaquerizo, Coleccionismo pictórico madrileño en la época isabelina: el Marqués de Salamanca (Madrid, 1992); M. Chinchilla Gómez, ‘Colección del Marqués de Salamanca’, in De gabinete a museo. Tres siglos de Historia (Madrid, 1993), pp. 346–61; E. M. Ramos Frendo, El marqués de Salamanca, un apasionado coleccionista (Málaga, 2012). 10 M. J. Casaus, La pinacoteca de la Casa Ducal de Híjar en el sigloxix. Nobleza y coleccionismo (Zaragoza, 2006); L. Frutos, ‘Las colecciones de Alba en el Palacio de Liria’, in Colección Casa de Alba (Seville, 2009), pp. 43–78; and B. Cacciotti (ed.), ElxivDuque de Alba coleccionista y mecenas de arte antiguo y moderno (Madrid, 2011). 11 A. Urquízar Herrera and J. A. Vigara Zafra, ‘La nobleza española en el cambio de sistema artístico, 1700–1850’, in L. Sazatornil Ruiz and F. Jiméno (eds), El arte español entre Roma y París (siglosxviiiyxix) (Madrid, 2014), pp. 257–74; A. Urquízar Herrera, ‘Las obras de arte en la supresión de los mayorazgos: el debate parlamentario y el pleito por la testamentaría de la xiii duquesa de Alba (1802–1844)’, Boletín de Arte 37 (2016), pp. 203–11. 12 C. Blutrach Jelín, Elxiiiconde de Fernán Núñez (1644–1721). Vida y memoria de un hombre práctico (Madrid, 2014), pp. 255–6. 13 Archivo Histórico Provincial de Córdoba, Leg. 11892p, fols 300v-301v. 14 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 491, d. 2–36. 15 Archivo Histórico de Protocolo de Madrid, Pr. 24.836, fol. 461r. 16 Á. Vegne y Goldoni, ‘La Sociedad Española de Excursiones visita el Palacio de Cervellón’, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones 27 (1919), p. 178. 17 A. B. Lasheras Peña, ‘España en París. La imagen nacional en las Exposiciones Universales, 1855–1900’, doctoral thesis (Santander, 2009); C. Reyero Hermosilla, La escultura del eclecticismo en España. Cosmopolitas entre Roma y París, 1850–1900 (Madrid, 2004), pp. 58–71 and 239–69. 18 L’Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée, 10 September 1867, pp. 147–9. 19 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 1649, d. 9. 20 La Ilustración Española y Americana, 30 May 1881, pp. 355–8. 21 F. González de Canales, Catálogo de pinturas del Museo Naval (Madrid, 1999–2006), vol. iv, pp. 164–165; J. I. González-Aller, Catálogo del Museo Naval de Madrid (Madrid, 2007), vol. i, pp. 368–9. 22 Archivo Histórico Provincial de Córdoba, Leg. 11892p, fols. 296r-v. 23 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 470, d. 22. 24 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 2315, d. 6-1. 25 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 1769, d. 30–2. 26 See Urquízar Herrera and Vigara Zafra, op. cit. (note 11), pp. 257–74. 27 P. Géal, La naissance des musées d’art en Espagne (xviiie-xixe siècles) (Madrid, 2005), p. 123. 28 On the beginning of the process of musealization of noble collections in Spain at the end of the eighteenth century see Géal, op. cit. (note 27), pp. 83–93. 29 La Ilustración Española y Americana no. 6, 15 February 1885, p. 83. 30 C. Reyero Hermosilla, ‘El valor del precio. Tasación y compraventa de pinturas en el Madrid isabelino (1850–1868)’, E-arts documents. Revista sobre colleccions & colleccionistes 1 (2009), p. 9. 31 Vázquez, op. cit. (note 1), pp. 159–85. 32 The 3rd Duke of Fernán Núñez, through Antonio Gisbert and his agent in Barcelona, Gerardo Guardiola, commissioned from Rosendo Novas the reproduction of the plaster work presented at the 1871 National Fine Arts Exhibition, which was awarded the second class medal. See Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 184, d. 19. 33 Fototeca del Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España, Archivo Ruiz Vernacci, vn-01002 and vn-01004. 34 El Salón de la Moda no. 30 (1884), p. 29. 35 Vegne y Goldoni, op. cit. (note 16), p. 172. 36 E. Navarrete Martínez, La pintura en la prensa madrileña de la época isabelina (Madrid, 1986). 37 E. Bravo y Moltó and V. Sancho del Castillo, Recuerdo de un baile de trajes. Reseña del verificado la noche del 25 de Febrero de 1884 en el palacio de los Excelentísimos Señores Duques de Fernán Núñez (Madrid, 1884). 38 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 344, d. 4-2. 39 La Correspondencia de España no. 8907, 11 August 1882, p. 3. 40 As pointed out by Carlos Reyero, in financial terms, his commissions rivalled those of Isabella II. See Reyero Hermosilla, op. cit. (note 30), pp. 26–7; J. L. Díez, Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (1815–1894) (Madrid, 1994), pp. 442–52. Similarly this patronage by the 3rd Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez is shown in detail in the comprehensive inventories of works of art that appear in the family archive. See: Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 897, d. 31; Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 1732, d. 25; Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 1170, d. 13–143. 41 El campo: agricultura, jardinería y sport no. 5, 1 February 1878, p. 77. 42 La Correspondencia de España: diario universal de noticias no. 1609, 26 November 1862, p. 1. 43 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 184, d. 19; La ilustración de Madrid no. 47, 15 December 1871, p. 356; La Ilustración Española y Americana, no. 48, 30 December 1881, pp. 387, 393. 44 Revista de bellas artes e histórico-arqueológica no. 75, 29 March 1868, p. 373; La Época no. 6.227, 18 March 1868, p. 4; El Imparcial, 20 March 1868, p. 2. 45 In his enthusiasm to commemorate the figure of Leopoldo O’Donnell, the 3rd Duke of Fernán Núñez was one of the main contributors to the public subscription for the monument in his honour which was to have been erected in the pantheon of the basilica in Atocha. See La Época no. 6.228, 19 March 1868, p. 3. 46 C. Reyero Hermosilla, ‘La ambigüedad de Clío. Pintura de historia y cambios ideológicos en la España del siglo xix’, Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 87 (2005), p. 58. 47 Revista de bellas artes e histórico-arqueológica no. 75, 29 March 1868, p. 373. 48 La Correspondencia de España no. 4.027, 27 November 1868, p. 2. 49 Revista de bellas artes e histórico-arqueológica no. 80, 10 May 1868, p. 96. Similarly on the participation of Eduardo Rosales in the competition organized by the 3rd Duke of Fernán Núñez, see: J. Puente, Catálogo de las pinturas del Sigloxxix (Madrid, 1985), p. 229; C. Armiñán Santonja, ‘Nuevas perspectivas sobre el pintor Eduardo Rosales (1836–1873): el contexto internacional de su obra y su fortuna crítica’, doctoral thesis (Madrid, 2015), pp. 272–3. 50 Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 2315, d. 6-3, 8, 27, 28 and 36. 51 El Imparcial, 10 September 1868, p. 3; La Correspondencia de España no. 4.305, 4 September 1869, p. 4. 52 R. Pérez Morandeira, Vicente Palamaroli (Madrid, 1971), pp. 14–15. 53 La Ilustración Española y Americana no. 33, 25 November 1871, p. 566. 54 For a critical review of the phenomenon of royal and aristocratic festivities in Spain during the reign of Isabella II, see David San Narciso Martín, ‘Ceremonias de la monarquía isabelina. Un análisis desde la historia cultural’, Revista de Historiografía 21 (2014), pp. 191–207. 55 J. Jiménez Mancha, ‘Carnaval: el baile de Fernán Núñez’, La Aventura de la Historia 76 (February 2005), pp. 74–7. 56 J. Gutiérrez Burón, ‘Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes’, Cuadernos de Arte español 45 (1992), p. 10. 57 B. Pantorba, Historia y crítica de las exposiciones nacionales de Bellas Artes celebradas en España (Madrid, 1980), pp. 47–52; C. Reyero Hermosilla, La pintura de historia en España: esplendor de un género en el sigloxix (Madrid, 1989); C. Reyero Hermosilla, ‘Los temas históricos en la pintura española del siglo xix’, in J. L. Díez García, La pintura de historia del sigloxixen España (Madrid,1992), pp. 37–67; J. Labanyi, ‘Horror, spectacle and nation-formation: historical painting in late-nineteenth-century Spain’, in S. Larson and E. Woods (eds), Visualizing Spanish Modernity (New York, 2005), pp. 64–80. 58 See Bravo y Moltó and Sancho del Castillo, op. cit. (note 37), pp. 28–9. 59 El Salón de la Moda no. 33 (1885), p. 53. 60 Q. Bajac, Tableaux vivants: fantaisies photographiques victoriennes (1840–1880) (Paris, 1999); M. Calmé, Les tableaux vivants dans la photographie au xixe siècle (Paris, 1999); B. Vouilloux, Le tableau vivant. Phryné, l’orateur et le peintre (Paris, 2015), pp. 17–55. 61 Á. Ezama Gil, ‘Arte y literatura en los salones femeninos del siglo xix: El salón de Trinidad Scholtz. La moda de los cuadros vivos’, in La Literatura Española del Sigloxixy las artes (Barcelona, 2008), p. 115. 62 The cultural practice of tableaux vivants enjoyed great success among the nobility. Indeed, so much so that at the beginning of the twentieth century there is evidence that cards were distributed before the parties of the Fernán Núñez specifying which topics should be represented and who would participate in them. See Archivo Histórico Nacional, Sección Nobleza, Fernán Núñez, c. 1732, d. 48-7. 63 Of the painters who participated in the organization and design of these aristocratic festivities, perhaps the most significant was José Moreno Carbonero. See V. Tovar Martín and C. Martín Tovar, El Palacio Parcent (Madrid, 2009), pp. 173–81. 64 P. López Mondéjar, Historia de la fotografía en España (Madrid, 1997), p. 37. 65 An ample repertory of photographic portraits of the parties of the 3rd Duke and Duchess of Fernán Núñez is kept in the album of the Count and Countess of Sobradiel. See J. A. Hernández Latas, Primeros tiempos de la fotografía en Zaragoza. Formatos de Carte de Visite y Cabinet Card (Zaragoza, 2010), pp. 108–16. 66 La Iberia no. 2670, 22 April 1863. 67 M. C. Cabrejas Almena, ‘El disfraz y la máscara en el retrato fotográfico del siglo xix’, Congreso Internacional Imagen Apariencia (Murcia, 2009). See also on this topic A. Llorente Villasevil, ‘El tejido histórico de la moda en tiempos de Isabel II’, xviiCongreso Español de Historia del Arte (Barcelona, 2008), pp. 1–3. 68 B. Riego, ‘Imágenes fotográficas y estrategias de opinión pública: Los viajes de la Reina Isabel II por España (1858–1866)’, Reales Sitios 139 (1999), pp. 2–13; C. Reyero Hermosilla, ‘Pintar a Isabel II: en busca de una imagen para la reina’, in J. S. Pérez Garzón (ed.), Isabel II: los espejos de la reina (Madrid, 2004), pp. 231–46; C. Reyero Hermosilla, Monarquía y Romanticismo. El hechizo de la imagen regia, 1829–1873 (Madrid, 2015). © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model)
Journal of the History of Collections – Oxford University Press
Published: Nov 14, 2018
Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.