Charles Clifford Exhibition – Madrid´s First Photographer

To mark the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Isabel II Canal, the Fundación Canal Mateo Inurria, is putting on an exhibition of the work of Charles Clifford, widely considered to be one of the most emminent photographers of his day.

Clifford was born in Wales in 1820 and travelled to Spain in his late twenties where he set up one of Spain´s earliest photographic studios in Madrid in 1850.

He soon attracted a steady stream of the most influencial Spaniards of the day – eager for a photographic portrait of themselves.

His portrait work attracted the attention of Queen Isabel II who appointed him her Court Photographer, and through which he was commisioned for many works including that of the early contruction of the Isabel II Canal.

The Canal, which was Madrid´s first major hydraulic infrastructure project, began in 1851 with the building of a man-made reservoir and 70 kilometre-long canal to bring water from the Lozoya River in the Sierra of Madrid to the growing capital city.

Clifford spent his professional career in Spain and became a leading pioneer in landscape and portrait photography.

He also photographed Queen Victoria, who is believed to have sat for him for a reciprocal portrait of one that he did of Queen Isabel.

The works on show have been loaned by Spain’s National Heritage, National Library and the San Fernando Royal Academy Of Fine Arts.

The exhibition is divided into four sections: “The pleasures of photography”, “Old and new Madrid”, “At the service of the monarchy” and “Construction of the Isabel II Canal: a feat worthy of the Romans”.

The exhibition also explores Clifford’s service to the crown, including his final works for a photographic record of the Queen´s royal tour of Andalucia in 1862.

Clifford died in Madrid shortly after on New Year’s Day 1863 and was buried in the British Cemetery in Carabanchel.





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