Charles Clifford's Journey through Spain

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Charles Clifford's Journey through Spain
Charles Clifford, 'Puerta Del Sol, Madrid', 1862
Charles Clifford's Journey through Spain

Charles Clifford was a British photographer who built a significant reputation as a photographer of Spain, where he lived from 1850. He arrived in the country as a balloon pilot or, ‘aeronaut of aerostatic balloons’, but soon devoted his efforts to photography. After establishing himself through various well-received portfolios of work such as Vistas del Capricho (1856), he became a favourite of Queen Isabella II, whom he accompanied on several tours as de facto official photographer. His series, 'Journeys through Spain' contained over four hundred large-scale photographs of the famous buildings and landscapes of the country, and was exhibited in Paris to great acclaim in 1856. His continued interest in photographing Spanish culture fitted with a wider artistic interest in representing the ‘exotic’. The modernisation of Madrid was of particular interest to Clifford, and he devoted much of his time to documenting the architectural and civic projects that lifted the city into the nineteenth century. His work was used by the government as propaganda for the progress that was made, and is now a valuable record of the improvements. However, Clifford was particularly interested in the atmospheric and tonal capabilities of photography and his photographs are often less concerned with documentation than many of his contemporaries.

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