Thursday, 9 October 2014

Gustave Dore's Illustrations of the Alhambra

A little while ago I posted a series of prints by Gustave Dore of Victorian London which you can see here; and a post on my visit to the Alhambra in June which you can find here.

I decided to write my dissertation on the Alhambra. I have had this idea in my head for a long while hence my visit there while on holiday earlier on this year, however it is only now that I am feeling the pressure of my decision - because I cannot go back on it now with only 8 weeks to go until my degree is finished (fingers crossed!!!). Living in what is basically the countryside with my nearest research library a couple of hours away I am feeling a bit stupid having chosen a subject that is barely (actually, not at all) represented in my uni library.

Regardless, I have ordered loads of books and have been looking at spending a couple of days a week at the National Art Library (at the V&A). So far I have been spending a bit of time reading the books that have already arrived and to finally get to the point I read one today that mentioned that Gustave Dore paid the Alhambra a visit and produced a series of prints!

I am currently reading 'Granada and the Alhambra' by Rafael Hierro Calleja as an introduction to the whole thing. He explains that during the 19th century the Alhambra fell into a state of disrepair. This was because those who had inhabited it and used it as their royal courts had been supporters of the Austrian claim to the throne during the succession conflict of 1700-1713. Thus, when the Bourbons came to the throne they were little pleased by their standing. To add insult to the injury, Napoleon occupied Granada for four years (1808-1812) and in the meantime destroyed parts of the complex. Therefore, despite the tour guides that make a point of showing off the restorers at work while they take you around, the Alhambra was not always looked after adequately . In fact it was not until 1870 until it was given some sort of protective status. That is almost 2 centuries of neglect. The book I am reading claims that during the 18th and 19th centuries the Alhambra was turned into 'dung heaps and taverns' that were 'occupied by the lowest social class of people' and that Gustave Dore (among others) documented this in his engravings.

The Junta de AndalucĂ­a have PDF's of Dore's book and it is from there that I have found the pictures I have uploaded below. They are part of a wider collection of his 236 engravings of Spain - from his book titled Spain. Should you want to look at it click here.

Taylor Lautner in the Alhambra, 200 years ago lol