The Alhambra in the 19th century. Owen Jones. 1842. Spectacular and large format

Extraordinary, luxurious and spectacular facsimile edition made in 2013 of The Alhambra in the nineteenth century: Plans, elevations, sections, and details of the Alhambra Palace. 1842.

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Extraordinary, luxurious and spectacular facsimile edition made in 2013 of The Alhambra in the nineteenth century: Plans, elevations, sections, and details of the Alhambra Palace. 1842.

With a large format of 49 x 68 cm and 240 pages, this book edited in 1842 by the architect Owen Jones with a print run of 100 copies, picks up a vision of The Alhambra in the 19th century through 29 engravings, 24 xilografías, 150 Arab inscriptions and 29 chromolithographs. It was the first time that this technique was used in the composition of a book. The text of Pascual de Gayangos introduces us in the origins of the Alhambra until its conquest by the Catholic Kings. The edition of the facsimile edition of 2013 was only 150 copies.

Characteristics of the facsimile edition of 2013:
Handmade book in fine velvet on table with gold prints and decoration in dry. Large format 51 x 69 cm. 220 pages in special paper, containing 29 engravings (4 double of 68 x 82 cm), 29 chromolithographs and 24 xilografías. Originally written in bilingual English / French, with phrases in Arabic and titles in Spanish.
Texts by Pascual de Gayangos: Historical semblanza of the kings of Granada, and Arab inscriptions. Owen Jones: Commentary on engravings and details.
Artists: Owen Jones and other engravers, xylographers and chromolithographers.
Limited edition to only 150 numbered copies and notarized.
The extraordinary facsimile volume is presented in a great closed case, a briefcase format with handle, made in blue editorial skin measures 60 x 71.5 x 6.5 cm.
Accompanied by a book of studies in Spanish with the translation of the English text and the Arabic poems. Format 21.5 x 30.5 cm.


Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Details of the Alhambra Palace. 1842.
The author was the English architect Owen Jones (1809-1874), who dedicated his work, in memoriam as coauthor, to his friend Jules Goury (1803-1834). In 1832, archaeologists and architects Jones and Goury traveled to Egypt to study the Islamic architecture of Cairo; Then they went to Constantinople and finally to Granada, in 1834, where they began to study the decoration of the Alhambra. After a stay of six months, Goury died of the cholera and Jones returned to London determined to publish the results of its studies. In the spring of 1837 he returned to visit the Alhambra and completed the collection. We took from his own work: "To ensure perfect accuracy, he took an impression of all the ornaments of the Palace, whether in plaster or wet paper without gluing, representing in a peculiar way in bas-relief the ornaments of the Alhambra. Its exact reproduction by the recorders. "

After ten years of hard work (1832-1842) he published his work "Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Details of the Palace of the Alhambra". He had to make a considerable financial effort; But in return gained a great prestige due to its pioneering standards in cromolitografía. This work is considered the first great work, worldwide, where the technique of chromolithography is used. From the drawings of Jules Goury, Owen Jones, and "Enrique", a cartoonist who had to collaborate with them from the earliest times, Jones got in touch with the best stampers of the time to make his dream come true. The engravers were: W. S. Wilkinson, E. Kennion (son of Edward Kennion, also engraver), Thomas Talbot Bury (1811-1877), C. Rauch, Frederick Williams Branston (1804-1879), and Henry Vizetelly.

Pascual de Gayangos's text and Owen Jones's Commentary are supported by drawings made in the field by the authors; Such as exteriors, topographical views and details. These drawings were reproduced in wooden plates for their stamping; That is woodcuts. In the work we only find "Wood engravings" (xylographs) next to the names of the "Engravings" (engravers). This means that some mastered both techniques. F. Williams Branston, in addition to copper engraver was a quoted xylograph, and he owes most of the wood engraving.

Owen Jones drew up the elevations and sections; But the small details and more than 150 Arabic inscriptions contained in the shafts, capitals, arches, friezes, mosaics and in the most unexpected places were recorded in bas-relief using all kinds of materials capable of carrying out the reproduction. These exact replicas also took the wood for printing. But Jones was faced with a serious problem: how to solve the color printing? He could give an accurate idea, obviously, of the buildings of the Alhambra and its interior elements; But the color of the decorations of the Nasrid Palace was very special. The color palette was very basic, but the brightness, light and gold are unique. Later, during a lecture as a professor at the School of Architecture he would say a lapidary phrase: "The form without color is like a body without a soul."

By 1840 a new lithographic technique had come to England which consisted of color reproduction. This method was called "chromolithography", which consisted of making as many plates as colors and printing them on the same medium based on the marking of records for each color so as not to jam the result. This technique, born in 1835, was used for small surfaces and isolated works; But to date no large-scale work has been done. Jones, Enrique, M. Hardie and J. M. Friedman worked tirelessly to achieve their goal.

Arab inscriptions are translated by Pascual de Gayangos and Arce, a Sevillian Arabist based in London. We have selected some poems from the fourteenth century alluding to the beauty of the Alhambra Palace:
I am the garden, and every morning I appear adorned with beauty. Look carefully at my elegance, and reap the benefits of a commentary on the decor.
Here is the wonderful dome, before whose beautiful proportion all the other (domes) vanish and disappear.
To which the constellation of the Twins extends the hand of greeting; With which he talks, and the full moon abandons its station in the sky.
To see them, one could imagine that there were so many planets that rotate in (the arches of this Hall) their orbits, in order to cast the shadow (even) at the first rays of the morning.
Here are the columns adorned with all perfection, and the beauty in which they have become is proverbial.
Which, being struck by the rays of the rising sun, one could imagine in spite of its colossal dimensions, which are so many blocks of pearls.

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  • The Alhambra
    Download the .pdf file with information of this article (texts in Spanish).

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