Santoña MasterPalace

At Huertas Street number 13 stands the imposing   Santoña MasterPalace. Today the Foundation hosts the Chamber of Commerce , but not always served this function.

In the sixteenth century there was in this area a palace, occupied in 1593 by the ” black prince ” Muley Xeque then named Felipe Africa, but it was more or less a mansion when it was purchased in 1731 the Marquis de Goyeneche, Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese banker, and his choice for remodelling was Pedro de Ribera, architect of the imposing building of brick and white stone from Colmenar de Oreja currently admire.

Palace Santoña met its splendor under the duke of the same name, which was, at the time Don Juan Manuel González Manzanedo, humble Indian family who amassed a fortune in Cuba, and to Alfonso XII who created the title because of its great skill in finance, and its contribution to Madrid improvement.


The duke lived in Cuba with his daughter Josefa, born of his relationship with Luisa Serra Intentes who did not get married. Once was alone there because his daughter moved to Paris he decided to marry María Del Carmen Hernández Espinosa de los Monteros, and returns to Spain. After living in Cadiz arrives in Madrid, where he acquired as gift for his wife GoyenechePalace. From that moment becomes the epicenter of social life in nineteenth-century Madrid aristocracy, they adapted to the tastes of the time, exotic décor with oriental influences, Party Hall, Pompeian Hall with its famous rotunda. This was due, among other things to the dedication of the duchess, who was called familiarly the ” Señá Mariquita Hernández”

The Duchess of Santoña was godly woman. Deeply moved by the situation of children’s medicine , prompted the construction of the Hospital del Niño Jesus, to this effect was responsible for organizing a raffle with the intention of raising funds , calling it National Raffle Child , which ranks as the first step was given for the current draw of the Lottery Child.


At death, the Duke, his daughter, inherited the bulk of his father’s vast fortune, valued at more than 2 billion regales at the time, strikes up a long legal battle in getting his stepmother strip of property that she had received, including the palace, which widow Duchess is in utter destitution, host to charity until his death on October 14, 1894.  A pity, knowing his affable and gracious character.

The property then passed to Joseph Canalejas, Liberal Party politician, who lived until the day of his death on November 12, 1912. His widow continued to occupy the palace until her death, when it became one of his nephews, who in turn sold the property on June 6, 1933 at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madrid, its current owner.

Post written by María Romero de Cuenca, art historian, curator and cultural guide. You can follow her work at her blogs: Arte al Instante and Artendencias.

Francesca Woodman

Each month will come with its own difficulties, I have that clear. Sometimes it’ll be tech issues, some other times problems with the team, knowledge concerns or emotional worries.

Last February the issues I found on my way were almost all emotional. Technically I had no problems to reach something similar to what the photographer Francesca Woodman did… She is our VIP character this month and I’d love to introduce her to you all.

Francesca Woodman was a very Young American photographer born within a family of artists. When she was only 22 she sadly decided to end her own life. This fact was the first one that catched my attention when I started studying her work. Her parents, still alive, never got the notoriety she did get in just 8 years of an art career. Neither Betty Woodman or George Woodman will ever have a retrospective in the Guggenheim Museum as Francesca did.

Previously I hadn’t heard about her work, neither her life or her story. I just realized how much her work impacted on me when I looked for their pictures… I was speechless. I felt a feeling of intranquility that I can’t explain with words. Francesca was only a 20 years old girl when she already got naked in front of a camera with no complex, very determine to not to hide. In a few of the pictures she looks like frightened, worried, In others however you can perceive her calm, her peace, she seems to be so tranquil.

Francesca, smart, sweet and fragile…

It was difficult for me to deeply understand her work. I only achieved that purpose when I saw the documentary their parents narrated about her life. I’m adding the link at the end of this post in case you reader, want to watch it. I was in awe to hear them talking about her daughter with such serenity.

After that it was even more difficult to select the pictures I wanted to reproduce. I beginned with the ones about the hands, then I followed imitating those with shoes. I finished my work trying to simulate the picture where she is sat down close to the window surrounded by frames over a small table. All of them were done from the total admiration to her work.

Her pictures take you back to that lapse of time. Her images seem to be pulled out from the Victorian epoque of the end of the 19th Century. You’ll be able to see phantasmagorical shadows moving around inside the image in lost scenerios. Human figures appear blurry or under the shadow of the old places she always chose for the scenes.

She was just a girl with a prodigious mind who in just a few years gave us more than 800 pitures. Her parents are the legal owners of her work. We are allowed to see less than a 25% out of the total collection.

My Friends from “El Objetivo Magico” had the great idea to give me away a book about her work as a present for my birthday. A gift that has already become an unforgettable memory about this whole month of hard work.

Before she ended her life, Francesca sent a letter to a friend in the school with these words on it: “My life at this point is like very old sediment in the bottom of a cup of coffee. I’d rather prefer to die young leaving a few realizations […] than hastily erase all these delicate things…”

With all my respect, admiration and appreciation to her, here are my images of February.






Here’s the link to our Blog, together with one of the artwork of each of us (The Magic Lens):  Verónica de Prado, Eva Menacho, Iratxe Cieza, Araceli Calabuig, Beatriz Pina, Sylvia Parés, Mima Molina y Sara Lagunas.  It’s really worth watching what they have done this past February.

All posts images are inspired in Francesca Woodman’s artwork included within the book “Francesca Woodman” by Chris Townsend.

Here’s also the link to her life:  Francesca Woodman. Don’t hesitate to watch it if you have the chance. It’s over 30 minutes long but it’s worth it. más de una hora pero de verdad es impresionante.

You can find more info:


The Art of “Ronqueo”

One of the things that I wanted to do when I found out that I would be spending a few days in Cadiz, was to get up on day at the break of dawn and go down to the Barbate port to see the arrival of the boats with their fresh fish. Of course I could not leave the camera at home. One morning this August with the typical strong wind of the region blowing intensely, I equipped myself with all the necessary tools and presented myself in the port at 7:30am to live this peculiar moment at first hand.

I was hugely disappointed at the start; just this week the Barbate float happened to be in the sardine fishing grounds of Cadiz, which meant that those of Barbate were empty and without a single boat loaded with fish arriving to dock. It seemed that the day I had chosen wasn’t the best, however, as always when one isn’t expecting anything; you end up getting a pleasant surprise.

Maria Vintage

And this is how it went, before long I was speaking with one of the people in charge of the port, he was explaining everything that was happening in a small corner of the port that had caught my attention, it was the only corner with any activity. There were ten seamen or so immersed in the only two activities that gave life to the port during those days: loading a boat with tons of fresh herrings for the bait of the 3000 tuna fish that are kept in the fattening and grow-out ponds close to the trap; the dismantling of this, in function since April 20th of this year, will happen next season in 2014.


Everything continued more or less the same as it had done 3000 years ago when the Phoenicians installed themselves in the region, giving start to the capturing of tuna fish that crossed from the Atlantic to spawn in the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians constructed the first factories dedicated to salting the tuna, creating a commercial route from these coasts, to transport the tuna captured and treated in Gadir (current Cadiz), across the entire Mediterranean.

They used amphorae made of mud that formed a two handled peak at the end; these were divided into various compartments on the inside. The base was for the salted fish, and in the higher parts there were different aromatic herbs and perfumes, which managed to eliminate the unpleasant odor during the long journey. The boats, loaded with sand beds in their cellars, sailed with the amphorae stuck over them in order to avoid the boat moving in dangerous seas throughout the duration of their long commercial journey.

The Phoenicians were the driving force behind a tradition and technique that lasted years after the Romans. These were the founders of the current Bolonia beach in the city of “Baelo Claudia”, where the main tuna treating factory of the Mediterranean may be found, still perfectly visible. There the tuna was cut up; they salted it in the great deposits dug out in the grounds, and with the deprivation and viscera of fish in the area, mainly of tuna, it was macerated in direct sunlight during the whole summer. They also created the prized sauce “Garum”, which was a delicacy during the period. This sauce is considered to be an aphrodisiac, and due to its elevated cost, it was only consumed by the wealthier classes of Ancient Rome. In view of the ingredients and treatment, I am sure that now we would not even be able to even smell the costly and renowned sauce.

The Arabs arrived after, to whom we owe the word “almadraba”: place where one beats.

The tradition continues up to the present day as every year the labyrinths of nets are hung up, just the way they were in the past. Through a channel formed by nets anchored to the bottom, it is possible to direct the tunas to a great big net from which they can no longer escape. After lifting this great load, the tunas are pulled up to the surface where they are captured one by one by some extremely strong arms. Not just anyone is capable of lifting pulsing fish, giving violent jerks, and weighing between 300 to 500kgs, and then to throw them onto the surrounding boat decks which are forming a ring that becomes increasingly narrower as long as the precious load is still being extracted from the waters.

Maria Vintage

In the forties there were more than twenty salting locations in the area where people from all over went to stock up on their famous salted fish. The salt, which is from the Chiclana salt flats and thicker than usual, is perfect for making “Mojama” (dried salted tuna). In those years of misery in Spain the star product was the herring sardine, however, dogfish, white tuna, tuna and flying fish were also salted. There are very few factories left now, although they continue to work in the exact same way as the Phoenicians and Romans did in their day.

I was told all of this in the port, but afterwards they advised me to visit “La Chanca”. It is one of the few craftwork and family-run businesses left in the area, in which a curious and interesting tuna museum has been installed, and where you are explained everything and are able to taste the products. Here we see the tuna get cut up and hear the famous “ronqueo”, the hoarse sound made when the expert hands pass the knife through the dorsal spine to separate the tuna loins. It is a noise similar to that made by a person snoring, and from this, comes the name.

A great variety of products are salted, preserved and smoked in the area, above all tuna fish, and they do it exactly the same way as it was done 3000 years ago. It is an art that should never be lost, and that all of us should know about and value for its long tradition in our history.

Maria Vintage Maria Vintage

I leave you here with a small photographic report of my experiences that morning in August, I hope you like it.


Ronqueo: A hoarse sound, such as a snore.

The Legacy of the House of Alba

On Friday afternoon I went to visit the “El Legado Casa de Alba” (The Legacy of the House of Alba) Exhibition. We were lucky enough to enjoy a private visit with Maria of Cuenca. A real luxury to be able to have the experience of listening to her exclusively and an absolute delight to wander through the exhibition rooms with her.

The exhibition has reunited about 150 works from the Liria Palace. Many of them are being exhibited to the public for the first time in history in what we could call the most important cultural exhibition of the year.

By opening this exhibition the House of Alba Foundation has wanted to make known the extremely important work that it carries out in order to maintain and conserve one of our country’s most important private collections.

If I must choose only one piece from the exhibition it would be the “White Duchess” by Francisco de Goya. This painting fascinates me, I had been wanting and hoping for the chance to see it in real life.

It was months ago that I requested a visit to the Liria Palace and I am still awaiting a reply. Amongst my greatest desires is that of being able to enjoy this painting in its original location; to wake up in the morning, enter one of the living rooms of your house and admire this work by Goya, it must be something difficult to describe.

The painting is magnificent. Doña Maria del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silvia and Alvarez of Toledo, the XIII Duchess of Alba, was one of the most attractive women of the Enlightenment in Madrid. Her beauty has been sung about by poets and musicians; it was said of her that she was so beautiful that when she walked down the street the whole world looked out at her from their windows and even the children left their toys and games in order to admire her.

Doña Cayetana had a strong temperament and was well known throughout the Madrid suburbs for dressing as a ‘maja’ (xviii and xix century inhabitants from certain areas in Madrid who dressed in resplendent costumes) in order to participate in traditional festivals. She was a strong defender of actresses, poets, painters and bullfighters, she even managed to cause dispute over the favours of handsome young men with other courtesans, including the Queen herself. She was a real character of her time, an assertive and restless woman with whom Goya fell in love with from the very first moment he met her.

Goya knew how to capture her assertive, restless and daring personality that she possessed for the time she lived in. An elegant dress of white gauze was chosen with a red ribbon around the waist, a coral collar and various ribbons of the same colour over her chest and in her hair. The bows reminded me of those flowers that the Duchess of Alba used to wear for all her public outings, I think this was a gesture towards her ancestors. Her hair is loose and curly, something that would have been unthinkable for a high bourgeoisie Lady like her, something perhaps more appropriate for the courtesans of the period. To her right is her lapdog with a coquettish little red ribbon around his paw as a symbol of fidelity. Possibly the same fidelity that the painter professed.

Other works of art worthy of mentioning are “The Virgin of Granada”, a unique painting belonging exclusively to the hands of Fra Angelico, never before exhibited in public.  Or well known documents such as Christopher Columbus’ autograph letter collection, the most extensive one we know, just like the first edition of Don Quixote.

Other pieces that really caught my attention were those related to Maria Eugenia of Montijo. One was a marble bust of which I attach a photo in bronze (I haven’t found any of those belonging to the House of Alba). What particularly grabbed my attention about this work of art was the broach worn on the neckline, as seen as I have two very similar models in the shop.

As a summary of the exhibition I leave you with the words of D. Carlos Fitz-James Stuart and Martínez of Irujo, Duke of Huéscar“Our intention is to share the works and pieces that make up the Casa de Alba Foundation’s collection with an audience that is increasingly familiar with and interested in culture and history. This exhibition enables us to present various works and documents that have survived the ups and downs of history and that form the greatest treasure of our family’s legacy. “

The exhibition is an authentic journey through Spain’s history, guided by the hands of one of the most noble and title-holding families of the world, I don’t recommend you miss it.

It is open until the 31st of March

Video:  The Legacy of the House of Alba


Vogue, 120 years of history

Its history begins at the end of the Nineteenth Century and it is known as the fashion bible.

Vogue magazine was born in the United States in 1892, founded by Arthur Baldwin Turnure. At the beginning, the gazette was weekly and was run by a New York aristocrat. Turnure contracted more staff with high social statuses than staff with actual literary talent. In that period the magazine was designed for a female and male readership, publishing news about sports, performances, books and music…

Only two copies of the first edition survive, currently they are to be found in the Vogue archives. The magazine has its own digitalized archive, which can be accessed by an annual subscription through the following link: Vogue Archive

In 1909, following the death of its founder, a young businessman from New York by the name of Conde Nast took over the weekly gazette. Conde Nast had graduated in Georgetown and, unlike the magazine’s previous owner; he immediately became aware that the magazine’s income had to come from its publicity and not from the sponsorship of some successful businessman.

Nast was a publicity and sales genius. In 1910 he decided to covert the publication to bimonthly and focus on the world of fashion. In order for the magazine to target a predominantly female public, he looked for the best photographers and illustrators of the time and put them to work at his side.

The magazine was first published in England in 1916 and in France in 1924. The Spanish Edition would start in the Eighties. Currently more than twenty countries in the world have their very own edition.

In 1913, with the arrival of photography and under Edna Woolman Chase’s management, the magazine’s chief editor until 1951, the magazine would be reinvented on various occasions and the readership would increase by a great degree.

By having previously worked in Home Pattern, Nast boosted the magazine’s sponsors section which then acquired a tremendous popularity. Even Eleanor Roosevelt, in interviews, admitted to having used Vogue’s sponsors for both herself and her children.

Nast died in 1942; however he had already converted Vogue into what it currently is: the most glamorous fashion magazine of the Twentieth Century.

The magazine would carry on in the hands of the Conde Nast Cooperation, which is where it continues today.

From 1952 until 1962 Vogue would receive a new format under Jessica Daves’ direction, a re-launch and many other novelties. It was Irving Penn’s recruitment that motivated this great change. Penn reinvented and modernized fashion photography. He would almost always resort to natural light, eliminating all superfluous elements and maintaining fashion in the limelight.

From 1963 until 1971 Diana Vreeland filled Vogue with a theatrical nature, orientating the magazine much more towards the fashion world and dedicating many more pages to clothes and accessories.

Grace Mirabelle (1971-1988) was to arrive afterwards. During this period the magazine would convert to a monthly publication, reducing its size in order to adjust it to the mailing standards. Mirabelle orientated the magazine more towards lifestyles than to fashion.

Currently, and from November 1988, the magazine finds itself in the hands of Ann Wintour. The first great change that Ann introduced was to show the model’s entire bodies on the front covers, opposing what Mirabelle had done my only displaying their faces.

Model’s entire bodies, the outdoors, natural light, little-known models and a mixture of low cost clothing and top designer pieces, these were Ann’s trademarks at the beginning.

Ann Wintour is currently one of the most powerful women in the fashion world; she has an astronomical wage and a generous benefit at the end of the year.

It is rumoured that the film The Devil wears Prada is based on her own character: arrogant, perfectionist and tireless.

Vogue is undeniably the most influential fashion magazine, and I don’t believe there to be a single woman in the civilized world that has not had a copy of the magazine in her hands at some point.

If you would like to find out more about the exciting history of this emblematic publication, you mustn’t miss out on acquiring a copy of “IN VOGUE”, a book by Norberto Angeletti and Alberto Oliva. It is a look into the magazine’s fascinating history. The work is illustrated with hundreds of covers designed by hugely important artists and images taken from the pages of the magazine published during more than 100 years.

The two authors worked on the project for five years, managing to produce a unique book. The book tells the publication’s story throughout its lifetime of 115 years and the influence that it has had, and still has, on culture, photography, art and journalism in general.

The Book: IN VOGUE 

The Bok on Amazon: IN VOGUE ON AMAZON