For centuries, Granada has dazzled all kinds of travellers and artists. In the early years of the 19th century, our city was the favourite tourist destination of Europeans and Americans. Countless characters made their way here: the “romantic travellers”. They were, above all, painters, engravers, cartoonists, musicians and writers from all over Europe, who wandered the streets and monuments of the capital, seeking inspiration and trying to capture the essence of Granada.
The birth of photography gave these travellers a powerful tool, with which they could capture the beauty of Granada in just a few minutes. The “travelling photographers” emerged.
In November 1839, just three months after the official announcement of the invention of photography, the Parisian optician Nicolas-Marie Paymal Lerebours began his project. This work consisted in publishing a collection of photographs of the most important monuments in the world, among them, was the Alhambra.
In 1840, the first travellers with a camera arrived in Granada. They were the French playwright Theophile Gautier and the photographer Eugène Piot, who travelled around Spain as correspondents of the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes’. After them, a myriad of artists visited the city, including Charles Clifford, Jean Laurent, the Bisson brothers, E.K. Tenison, etc. But they all had something in common, they were just passing through.
They arrived in Granada, took their photos in a few weeks, and returned to their places of origin to sell the images they had captured.
In the mid-19th century, the Parisian Charles Mauzaisse, son of the French painter Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse, arrived in Granada.
Charles Mauzaisse was the first photographer who conceived the commercial performance of the image of the city of Granada, offering in the capital itself collections of views (postcards) for travelers.
He first lived in the Fonda Vieja de Vigaray, located in the Plaza del Campillo, and later set up his own studio in San Matías Street, or in one of the nearby streets, possibly in Laurel de San Matías Street, where he had his family residence. He offered photographic tours of the city and sold postcards with views of the capital.
The local newspapers advertised it in the following way:
“He makes available to the public of Granada and to foreigners who come from all over to admire the wonders of this beautiful city, a beautiful and complete collection of views at very fixed prices, and he takes care of taking out the views that are requested”.
At the same time he made portraits for the local clientele in rubber, paper, glass and photographic miniatures on ivory. He actively participated in the artistic circles of the time and made deep friendships with other painters such as Henry Regnault, Georges Clairin, Mariano Fortuny, and Federico Madrazo.
On November 28, 1861 he married the young María Josefa Luque Gómez, 20 years younger than him. Two girls, Enriqueta and Luisa Mauzaisse Luque, were born from this relationship.
Mauzaisse set up his studio in the Alhambra in the 1970s. He was the first photographer with a studio in the Arab enclosure. From that time onwards, Mauzaisse produced a prolific collection of photographic images that revolved around the Alhambra, the most popular subject of the time.
The privileged location of his studio would give him access to many more visitors than the rest of his colleagues established in the city centre. Moreover, in this first studio, located next to the Wine Gate of the Alhambra, Charles was in the tourist heart of Granada, where he could sell both his views of the monument and move to the nearby Patio de los Leones, to make a souvenir for any visitor.
Mauzaisse would also be an innovator and in 1866 he patented a photographic process of printing on porcelain paper.
Charles Victor Mauzaisse Weelher, died in 1885 from cholera, during the epidemic that devastated Granada that year. His daughter Luisa married the interpreter and antique dealer, Nicolás Garzón, Rafael Garzón’s older brother. Luisa and her brother-in-law Rafael Garzón continued to run the photographic studio created by Carlos Mauzaisse.
As a curiosity, it is possible to find the surname of this Parisian artist written in different ways, among them: Maufsaise, Mauzzais, Mauzaisse, Manzaisse. All these variations are explained by the fact that the same artist wrote it in different ways.
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