Charles Clifford, The Court of the Lions, Alhambra, albumen print photograph, about 1855. Museum no. 47:790
The Court of the Lions, Alhambra
Albumen print photograph
Museum no. 47:790
Charles Clifford was one of the finest photographers of 19th century Spain, and he spent most of his career there. Having settled in Madrid in the 1850s, he became court photographer for Queen Isabella II, and accompanied her on a number of royal tours within Spain. Clifford was very effective at capturing architectural subjects through his technical mastery of the large-format camera.
Owen Jones and Jules Goury, Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details from the Alhambra, volume, 1845. Museum number: NAL; 110.P.36
Owen Jones and Jules Goury
Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details from the Alhambra
Museum number: NAL; 110.P.36
This volume was part one in a series of two, and constituted the main output of Jones and Goury's observational work in Andalucia. The studies contained within this volume include detailed drawings of ornament, translations of all Arabic inscriptions and an in-depth historical account of the Moorish kings of Granada.
To ensure perfect accuracy in the ornament details, plaster impressions were taken of every element of ornament of the Alhambra. Some of these casts were bought by the South Kensington Museum (precursor to the V&A) for students of Oriental art.
Jones worked hard to establish a good standard of chromolithographic printing to do justice to the striking Islamic decorative schemes, and in fact as a result was a major force in pushing forward colour printing in England at the time.
Owen Jones, Designs for tiles, watercolour, about 1849. Museum no. 8115:5
Designs for tiles
Museum no. 8115:5
One of the key outcomes of Jones’s and Goury’s work at the Alhambra was their sustained research into Islamic tile design. Jones soon realised the debt that Islamic design had to geometry, mathematics and astronomy. He was a strong influence in the contemporary development of tile designs, seeing the patterns of tessellation as a key to rationalising the beauty of Islamic ornament.
Philip Henry Delamotte, The Alhambra Court at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, photograph, 1854. Museum no. 39.315
Philip Henry Delamotte
The Alhambra Court at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham
Museum no. 39.315
After the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace was dismantled and re-erected in Sydenham. A fire in 1936 destroyed most of the building, but some of the remains can still be seen today, and are Grade II-listed. The photographer Philip Henry Delamotte was commissioned to document the preparation and opening of the 'new' Crystal Palace when it was moved to Sydenham. Owen Jones was responsible for many of the design courts, in particular the Court of the Alhambra. This photograph shows tile detailing which follows many of the same patterns shown in the design of object 8115:5.
Enrique Linares, Model of the interior of the Alhambra, 19th century. Museum no. A.26-1936
Model of the interior of the Alhambra
Museum no. A.26-1936
This model shows the lobed ‘horseshoe’ arch which was a common motif in Umayyad Islamic architecture within Spain. The Umayyads had ruled the Islamic empire from Damascus but were then usurped by the Abbasids from Baghdad. The forced exile of the Umayyads brought them to Spain where they began a parallel Islamic kingdom within the Iberian peninsula.
William Harvey, Drawing of the ‘Tower of the Captive’, The Alhambra, pen & ink, indian ink, watercolour and pencil. Museum no. E.1274-1963
Drawing of the ‘Tower of the Captive’, The Alhambra
Pen & ink, indian ink, watercolour and pencil
Museum no. E.1274-1963
This large drawing by William Harvey represents well the intense and bold polychromy of architectural ornament within Islamic Spain. The museum holds a number of these measured drawings by Harvey which all utilise a striking black background, which allows the intricacies of the ornamental design to come into sharp relief.
John Dobbin, Lions in the Alhambra, watercolour, from a sketch made in 1859. Museum no. 1674-1871
Lions in the Alhambra
From a sketch made in 1859
Museum no. 1674-1871
This painting by John Dobbin presents a very different view of the Alhambra compared with previous objects in this talk. By utilising a topographical approach, showing men lounging in the shadows of the Court of Lions arches, Dobbin exerts a more romantic patina over the image – creating a more subjective and atmospheric impression of what life was like living and conversing in the courtyards and gardens of the Alhambra.