SPAIN – JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, 1839
Bodycolour on paper laid on canvas.
Both in original frames with gilt slips under glass.
Dimensions (without frames): 16 inches (40.5cm) x 33.25 inches (84.5cm) (2)
‘Viña Domecq’: signed, inscribed and dated: ‘Jerez Marzo 1839’ – lower right.
‘Vista de Jerez de la Frontera’: signed, inscribed and dated: ‘Pintò y dibujò Jerez Febro 1839’ – lower right.
The Compositions: The main house depicted in the first watercolour is thought to have been the residence of Pedro Domecq Lembeye. It was the main Domecq residence in Jerez until Pedro’s brother, Juan bought what is now known as the “Palacio Domecq” from the Marques de Montana in 1855. The house was situated on land just outside the ancient city walls which is still used by Bodegas Pedro Domecq for the production of sherry. The view of Jerez in the second watercolour is painted from the roof of the house, suggesting that the artist was given a very specific commission by someone closely connected to the house.
Ruskin, Telford & Domecq: In 1808 the young Pedro Domecq Lembeye was working in London for the wine and sherry importers Gordon, Murphy & Co, and together with the Head Clerk, John James Ruskin, (and Henry Telford), founded the business Ruskin, Telford and Domecq. Domecq died prematurely in an accident in 1839, the same year that these watercolours were painted. It is known, through the writings of his son the famous art critic John Ruskin, that by 1839 John James Ruskin was actively collecting watercolours.
Whether Ruskin or Telford had anything to do with the commissioning of these watercolours in the year of their Spanish friend and partner’s untimely death is unclear, but the works were very quickly back in the United Kingdom which we know because they remain in their original rosewood frames which were supplied by Gifford & Mair of 163 Union Street, Aberdeen (who were active through 1839-41).
Jerez de la Frontera: Jerez de la Frontera, often called Jerez, is a city in the province of Cadiz, in the Andalusia region in southwest Spain. Jerez’s old quarter surrounds the Alcázar de Jerez, a Moorish fortress founded in the 11th Century. The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is a famed riding school with horse shows and a carriage museum. The city is also known for flamenco music and sherry production in the so-called ‘Sherry Triangle’ lying to the west.
Luis Taffien (1811-1866): Also spelt ‘Lewis’ or ‘Louis’, little is known of Taffien. He was a landscape painter who spoke fluent Spanish and who travelled to New York and Spain. In 1849, Taffien lived at 209 Strada Forni, Valletta, Malta. Whilst in New York, he produced a painting entitled ‘The Great Fire of 1835 As Seen from Brooklyn, New York’, a gouache and black ink over graphite on paper, laid on Japanese paper, which is housed in the Museum of the City of New York (29.100.24971835).