Press Release: Sun and Stone Graduate Center Art Gallery Features Nineteenth-Century Spanish Photography

From December 2 to January 15 the Art Gallery of the Graduate Center will present a rare--perhaps unique--window on the Spain of Queen Isabel II and the second half of the nineteenth century. Titled "Sun and Stone: Nineteenth-Century Photography in Spain," the exhibition from the collection of Jerald R. Green will feature over 75 prints from more than a dozen photographers, whose subject matter encompasses Spain's rich and varied architectural heritage. The Gallery will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 12 to 6 pm. The Graduate Center of the City University of New York is located at 365 Fifth Avenue/34th Street. (Pictured at left is Burgos 84, El Arco de Sta. Maria (c. 1868) by Jean Laurent.)

The press is invited to an opening reception on December 1, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Beginning in the early 1850s and due in large part to the development of the wet-plate collodion photographic process, hundreds and then thousands of photographers--both native and foreign, professional and amateur--fanned out over Spain's foreboding and difficult geography. The nineteenth-century foreign and Spanish photographers represented in the exhibition produced an enormous number of images, the vast majority of which depicted subjects found in the south of Spain, principally in the semi-autonomous region of Andalusia. They produced superb images of Romanesque churches, Gothic and Byzantine cathedrals, Roman bridges, aqueducts, and amphitheaters, Moorish mosques and temples, relatively few landscapes and cityscapes, all types of castles, fortresses, and monasteries, images of armor from the Royal Armory of Spain, genre photographs, stereo cards, postcards, and cartes de visite (portrait calling cards).

The following photographers are represented in the exhibition: Jean Laurent, Charles Clifford, Luis León Massón, Rafael Garzón, Casiano Alguacil, Camino, Señán y González, Francis Frith, the Levy archive, Emilio Beauchy, R.P. Napper, Louis De Clercq, James Craig Annan, and a small number of images made by unknown photographers. Both Clifford and Laurent served Queen Isabel II of Spain as court photographers, although Welsh-born Clifford was active in Spain for only a dozen or so years, from 1850 until his untimely death in early 1863. Laurent was active in Spain for almost forty years during which the French-born entrepreneur mounted an ambitious, commercial photographic enterprise which produced tens of thousands of glass-plate negatives, postcards, and cartes de visite.

Jerald R. Green has been an acute and sensitive collector of Spanish photography for several decades. In addition to supplying the vintage prints and being the guest curator of the exhibition, he wrote the catalogue essay and biographical notes on the photographers.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. The only consortium of its kind in the nation, the school draws its faculty of more than 1,600 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges and cultural and scientific institutions throughout New York City. According to the most recent National Research Council report, more than a third of The Graduate Center's rated Ph.D. programs rank among the nation's top 20 at public and private institutions. Further information on The Graduate Center's programs and activities can be found on its website at:

Submitted on: OCT 1, 2004

Category: James Gallery | Press Room