Vivian Maier, the magetism of the daily nature

Vivian Maier (1926-2009) left an impressive photographic legacy. You might have enjoyed a tiny part of her job in an exhibition last Summer in Valladolid (Spain) or any other city where it was showed in the country. If you did, you are very lucky, because I couldn’t find any other show with her pictures.

I found her thanks to Beatriz Garcia Couriel during an online photography course. Her simple and plain work will take you to the streests of Chicago and New York during the second half of the 20th century. Those pictures really amazed me.

Vivian used to develop her rolls in the bathroom of the house where she was working as a babysitter. She gathered houndreds of them! Most of them have not been developed yet. Her legacy was discover by chance when over 100,000 negatives were found after an auction in Chicago back in 2007. The owner of that material John Maloof hasn’t been able to public everything yet.

She shot at daily life scenes in Chicago and New York: prostitutes, beggars, homelesses, children in the streets… All of them common daily scenes full of magnetism.

One of the series that grabbed my attention was her self-portraits. They are reflections over mirrors or windows. Shots that she made while walking on Sundays. You’ll find on them a serious Vivian; shy, reserved and discreet. At least, those are the feelings this series makes me feel! The manager of the commission of the exhibition in Valladolid, Anne Morin, explained the reason might be the permanent search for herself. Vivian was the foremother of this trend.

In the beginning I thought to focus on those self-portraits to do my copy of her work, under the most common “Vivian style”, made with a camera very similar to the one she used. A camera I found in an old wardrobe that belonged to my father. A complete Rollei with several lenses, filters and even a remote shooter. Finally I decided to get out with my camera and try to get the shots she would have made.

Here’s the link to the movie of Vivian’s life. It’s totally recommended since you’ll know why whe was the way she was.

This is my own work, the one I’ve done with my colleagues from El Objetivo Magico. I hope you like it!





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3rd Edition Jewelry of the History

We are celebrating the third edition of our Show “Replicas of Jewelry of the History”. After the great success of our two previous editions and also using the momentum of the release in theatres of Grace of Monaco, we’ve decided make it very special this year. 

The big opening will be next Tuesday, the 20th, at 12 pm (GMT + 1) with the History specialist María Romero de Cuenca who will lead you across the most amazing life of jewelry.

And we have a surprise! Both you who happens to be in Madrid and want to join us, and you who will follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will have the chance of being the first to see and enjoy our new collection “Grace”, based on the jewels Grace Kelly was gifted during her royal wedding. Did you know it was a very special order made by Rainier III, Prince of Monaco? A necklace with pearls and double clip, a bracelet and a pair of earrings compound the beautiful gift.

But we won’t stop there! Beyond those replicas, we’ve made a lovely tiara inspired in the one Grace Kelly preferred the most. She wore it in a few events, with a pretty hairstyle by the famous stylist Alexandre.It’s a jewel made in silver and zircons. The original piece had on it 214 bright-carving diamonds and 45 baguette-carving diamonds. The Princess wore it in several special occasions like the Gala pre Spanish Royal Wedding in Athenas and also during the party previous to the wedding between the Infanta Pilar Duchess of Badajoz and Luis Gomez-Acebo back in 1967.  

During the show you’ll also find many other luxurious accessories our Princess could have worn: hand bags, gloves, earrings…

The next 20th of May will be a very special date. We’ll open our space in Madrid in a non-stop timetable from 11 am until 8.30 pm. That day we’ll also make a toast with a glass of Oporto and we’ll have the chance to know each other better at the same time we enjoy these iconic pieces.

Here’s the invitation to the event: INVITATION TO THE SHOW JEWELS OF THE HISTORYin case you are in Madrid in that date and wish to join us.

For those of you who can’t attend that day, feel free to follow the event on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #historicjewels and #GraceKelly. We’ll also have a hangout on Google+, so stay tuned!

Looking forward to seeing you all!.

Maria y Ana López-Linares



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.

A visit to the Liria Palace.

A stroll through the History of Spain

I had been waiting for this moment for nearly four years, and honestly, it was completely worth it. On Friday 10th May at 10am I had a very special appointment. I attended a guided visit round the Palace of Liria.

When I made my reservation half way through the year 2009 I never imagined that the waiting list would be so long. In March I received an email from the Patron of the House of Alba announcing the date of my visit, after so long a wait (nearly four years) I had nearly forgotten making the reservation.

I should admit that I was rather nervous throughout last week; the week leading up to my visit, anxious for the arrival of this moment and all that I would find and see on this so highly desired trip.

At 10am sharp the palace’s garden gates were opened and our guide, assigned by the patron, was waiting to receive us. He was in charge of explaining everything to us and answering all of our questions.

As soon as you pass through the doors of the palace’s main entrance you are stunned by the reception hall, the staircase, the ceilings, the sculptures and the paintings…all of these so majestic. I did not really know where to look along the route taking us to the first floor where a series of rooms awaited us, each one with a very special name.

In the first room was the original and splendid armor of the Count Duke of Olivera (related to the House of Alba). It was the same one he wore when he had his portrait painted by Velazquez. It is impressive to see it shining and gleaming so much in a corner of the room.

In another corner hangs Maria Estuardo’s facsimile of her death sentence, signed by Isabel I of England. Curiously the House of Alba would find part of its family again, centuries later in 1892 through the Duke of Berwick Carlos Miguel Fitz James Stuart and Silva, as the Fourteenth Duke of Alba.

From here we pass to the “Italian Room”. Here I am able to once again admire the Fray Angelico that I had previously seen in the House of Alba exhibition in the Cibeles Palace, however, seeing it now in its original place was something very exciting. Together with it was a drawing of one of Leonardo’s disciples that not only had a notable impact on me but also delighted the rest of the visitors. Next to this masterpiece was one of the current Duchess’s favorite paintings: a small Perugino.

From here to the “Goya Room” where we were awaited by a masterly self-portrait by Mengs, a sovereign collection of Maria de Pilar Teresa Cayetana of Silva and Alvarez of Toledo, Thirteenth Duchess of Alba, completed by Goya. I had already had the opportunity to enjoy these pieces in the Cibeles Palace exhibition; however, I felt the same emotions as if it were the first time. As a curiosity, in this room appeared the Emperor Napoleon III’s office desk. During the Spanish Civil War it had passed into the hands of Serrano Suñer. Our guide told us that it had cost a lot of effort to bring it back to the House of Alba. Also in this room, which in that period was a bed chamber, the Empress Maria Eugenia of Montijo, sister of the Duchess of Alba (of that time), had died in 1922. She had donated furniture and paintings to the House of Alba and amongst these items was the aforementioned desk of her husband Napoleon III.

After we moved on to the “Flamenco Room”, in which a majestic porcelain lamp by Meissen received us, acquired relatively recently by the current Duchess, it illuminated masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt and other famous flamenco painters. An impressive mirror hanging over the chimney also caught my attention.

We continued the visit with a walk through the hall and I did not know where to focus my gaze: chairs, tables, mirrors, clocks (all on time), hundreds of figures made from porcelain and other materials on top of the furniture… Everything was overwhelmingly beautiful. It was like taking a walk through Spain’s history dating back from the fourteenth century to the time of the House of Alba.

Our guide tells us that a clockmaker comes every week in order to wind up all the clocks in the palace and check that they are all keeping in perfect time. He also told us how one employee in the house knows exactly where each item of the house’s collection is placed. This struck me as something remarkable given the unimaginable quantity of objects. The collection of porcelains, miniatures, frames, lamps, wall lights, tapestries and carpets is astounding. I really was left speechless.

We pass through to the “Battle Room” or the “Grand Duke’s room”. Our guide informs us that this is his favorite. It is a somber, masculine room decorated in burgundy tones with an impressive gold ceiling brought from the Peñarada de Bracamonte. This room is a visit back to the beginning of the Grand Duchy. We can also admire a curious Hispanic-Flamenco panel with a figure of the Grand Duke of Alba, the third Duke of Alba, painted by Tiziano, a portrait of the Second Duke of Alba and amongst all of these a Rubens hung in the spotlight. This Rubens is a masterly piece of the Second Duke of Alba, which was at that very moment being prepared to be handed over for an exhibition in Paris. On the walls hung a fantastic collection of three tapestries from Brussels representing the battle of Jemmingen woven with silk and gold thread, the weight of gold in each estimated at about 5kg.

After that the “Spanish Room”, in which a portrait of the Infanta Margarita, one of the famous Meninas, painted by Velazquez is shown off along with a Christ by Greco, a Zurbaran, a Murillo and a Ribera. Now you can imagine how I felt upon finding myself before such marvels, I did not know where to focus my attention.

From here we pass through to the “Zuloaga Room” with the two portraits of the current Duchess’s parents and other works by the famous Valencian artist. In this room the other office desk can be found from Eugenia of Montijo’s legacy after her death, this one having belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. They tell us that this one was found in Francisco Franco’s office in the Pardo, taken there after the Spanish Civil War. In a hearing given then, the fourteenth Duke of Alba, father of the current duchess, was believed to be the owner of the desk upon having the knowledge of a secret drawer that Franco didn’t even know existed, and that still held the Duke’s personal information held within it, enabling him to recover the desk.

We finish the walk through the rooms in the “Lover’s Room” with a pure, imperial French style decoration, Meissen and Sevres, porcelain and an impressive Louis XV furniture collection.

After we visited the dining room from which we could admire the beautiful French style garden, we finally came to the “Ballroom”. The walls of this room are taken over by two tapestries of Eugenia of Montijo and Napoleon III.

Here we finish our visit. Nearly one hour that I will never forget.  Later I took advantage of the five minutes that they allowed us to take a couple of photographs of the garden, and of course, the front door knocker. Unfortunately, however, I accidentally deleted all the photographs from this day and consequently I am unable to leave you with a single testimony of my visit.

The visit id free and although you never know how long the waiting list will be, I can assure you that it is completely worth it.


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