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Madrid on the move: Feeling modern and visually aware in the nineteenth century

Madrid on the move: Feeling modern and visually aware in the nineteenth century

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Madrid on the move: Feeling modern and visually aware in the nineteenth century

505 pages
6 heures
Feb 2, 2021


Madrid on the move illustrates print culture and the urban experience in nineteenth-century Spain. It provides a fresh account of modernity by looking beyond its canonical texts, artworks, and locations and explores what being modern meant to people in their daily lives. Rather than shifting the loci of modernity from Paris or London to Madrid, this book decentres the concept and explains the modern experience as part of a more fluid, global phenomenon. Meanings of the modern were not only dictated by linguistic authorities and urban technocrats; they were discussed, lived, and constructed on a daily basis. Cultural actors and audiences displayed an acute awareness of what being modern entailed and explored the links between the local and the global, two concepts and contexts that were being conceived and perceived as inseparable.
Feb 2, 2021

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Madrid on the move - Vanesa Rodríguez-Galindo

Madrid on the move

Series editors: Anna Barton, Andrew Smith

Editorial board: David Amigoni, Isobel Armstrong, Philip Holden, Jerome McGann, Joanne Wilkes, Julia M. Wright

Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century seeks to make a significant intervention into the critical narratives that dominate conventional and established understandings of nineteenth-century literature. Informed by the latest developments in criticism and theory the series provides a focus for how texts from the long nineteenth century, and more recent adaptations of them, revitalise our knowledge of and engagement with the period. It explores the radical possibilities offered by new methods, unexplored contexts and neglected authors and texts to re-map the literary-cultural landscape of the period and rigorously re-imagine its geographical and historical parameters. The series includes monographs, edited collections, and scholarly sourcebooks.

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Madrid on the move

Feeling modern and visually aware in the nineteenth century

Vanesa Rodríguez-Galindo


Copyright © Vanesa Rodríguez-Galindo 2021

The right of Vanesa Rodríguez-Galindo to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Published by Manchester University Press

Altrincham Street, Manchester M1 7JA


British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978 1 5261 4436 2 hardback

First published 2021

The publisher has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for any external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Cover image: Emilio Sala, ‘Nuevo Mundo de hoy!’, Nuevo Mundo, 217 (2 March 1898). Biblioteca Nacional de España.

Typeset by

Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire


List of figures


Introduction: Decentring modernity

1Seeing in the city: visually aware citizens

2Making modernity: images, words, and cross-national connections

3Strolling the city: the flâneur interrupted

4Sketching social types: local contexts, modern customs, visual traditions

5Creating hybrid surfaces: truth, representation, reality/illustration, caricature, photography




List of figures

1.1 Leonardo Alenza, ‘Gritos de Madrid. El ciego’, Semanario Pintoresco Español , 16 (21 April 1839), 125 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

1.2 Advertisement for Salón de Limpia-botas de Agustín Riquer, El Mundo Cómico , 4 (April 1872), 8 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

1.3 ‘El ciego de la noria’ (The waterwheel blind man), postcard, ca. 1900. Colección Cánovas, serie C (collection of the author)

1.4 ‘The Pictorial Spirit of the European Illustrated Press’, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper , 1040 (4 September 1875), 440 (courtesy of HathiTrust. hathitrust.org)

1.5 La Iberia , 7676 (7 October 1881), 4 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

1.6 ‘Sala donde se halla la instalación de nuestro periódico, en la Exposición Literaria y Artística, – de fotografía de Laurent’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 1 (8 January 1885), 4 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

1.7 Eduardo Sojo ‘Demócrito’, ‘El legado de los conservadores’, El Motín , 1 (10 April 1881), 2–3 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

1.8 ‘Palacio de Buenavista’, Semanario Pintoresco Español , 8 (1 May 1836), 41 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

1.9 Jean Laurent y Cía, Palacio de Velázquez en el Retiro , ca. 1880–1900. Gelatin glass negative. (Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte)

1.10 ‘La Exposición de Minería. Parque de Madrid – Exterior del Pabellón Central (De fotografía de Laurent)’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 21 (8 June 1883), 1 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

1.11 Juan Comba, ‘Viaje del S.M. el Rey a Aranjuez’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 25 (8 July 1885), 4 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

1.12 Francisco Hernández Tomé, ‘Madrid – Vista general de la Puerta del Sol (dibujo del Señor Tomé’, La Ilustración Española y Americana, supplement no. 1 (5 January 1871), 20–1 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

1.13 Jean Laurent y Cía, Madrid. Vista general de la puerta del Sol , ca. 1860–70. Photograph, albumen print on paper (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

1.14 ‘Funerales del Excelentísimo Sr. Cardenal Moreno: Paso del cortejo fúnebre por la Puerta del Sol – (de fotografía de Laurent)’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 3 (8 September 1884), 137 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

1.15 Emilio Valverde y Álvarez, Plano de Madrid , ca. 1880–89. Map, 70 × 60 cm. (Madrid: Lit. A. Fortuny) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

1.16 ‘Estados Unidos – Tipos y costumbres populares. Nueva York – Movimiento en el Broadway’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 8 (28 February 1875), 136–7 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

1.17 José Pilar Morales, Planos parciales de los barrios que comprende cada uno de los distritos de Madrid con las reformas de la población hechas hasta el día y otros datos estadísticos interesantes trazados con arreglo á [sic] la última demarcación oficial del Excmo. Ayuntamiento. Tercer distrito Centro (Madrid: Imprenta y litografía de Nicolás González, 1880), 22–3. Map (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.1 Manuel Scheidnagel, Vocabulario de los idiomas francés, inglés y español: compuesto de todos los vocablos, verbos y adjetivos que se relacionan comúnmente [sic] para la mejor inteligencia de los tres idiomas (Madrid: Establecimiento tipográfico de R. Labajos, 1879), 119 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.2 La Moda Elegante , 32 (30 August 1871), 252–3 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.3 Manuel Luque, ‘Modismos del lenguaje’, El Mundo Cómico , 77 (19 April 1874), 4–5 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

2.4 George du Maurier ‘A choice of idioms’, Punch’s Almanack for 1888 (8 December 1887) (courtesy of HathiTrust)

2.5 El siglo futuro , 675 (31 January 1878) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.6 ‘Patín de ruedas perfeccionado, conjunto y detalles’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 131 (8 April 1876), 245 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

2.7 Dionisio Granado, Los patinadores: valses para piano (Madrid: Pablo Martín Editor, 1877). Music score. (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.8 Maximilien Graziani, Le skating: quadrille brillant pour piano par Maximilien Graziani (Paris: Alphonse Leduc Imp. Michelet, 1876). Music score. (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.9 Ramón Cilla, ‘Skating-Rink’, Madrid Cómico , 156 (13 February 1886), 4–5 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

2.10 Jean Laurent, Skating Rink or Patinaje, altorrelieve en yeso (Skating, high relief in cast), 1878. High relief by Celestino García y Alonso. Photograph, negative (Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte)

2.11 ‘Revista Extranjera Ilustrada. Milán – Preparativos para la recepción del emperador de Alemania: Demolición del Rebecchino, en la plaza del Domo (por la noche)’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 40 (30 October 1875), 277 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

2.12 ‘Proyecto de Ensanche de la Calle de Sevilla: ingreso por la misma por la de Alcalá’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 44 (30 November 1878), 309 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

2.13 Hauser y Menet, Madrid, Edificio de La Equitativa , 1892. Photograph, collotype. 317 × 254 mm (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

2.14 Godefroy Durand, ‘Aspecto de los bulevares de París el día de año nuevo antes de la guerra’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 1 (5 January 1871), 13 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

2.15 ‘El convento de calatravas’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 7 (20 March 1870), 84 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

3.1 Clockwise, Manuel Luque, ‘Las chismosas’ and Josep Lluís Pellicer, ‘Doble Sorpresa’, El Mundo Cómico , 16 (16 February 1873), 3–4 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

3.2 Ramón Cilla, ‘Madrid chismoso. De regreso’, Madrid Chismoso 18 (17 September 1885) (Biblioteca Regional de Madrid)

3.3 Josep Lluís Pellicer, ‘Escenas matritenses. Una acera de la Puerta del Sol al anochecer’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 17 (8 May 1876), 304–5 (Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes)

3.4 ‘Nelson’s Column & Trafalgar Square London’, postcard sent in 1906. Collection Familia Osorio y Martos, Condes de la Corzana (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

3.5 Josep Lluís Pellicer, ‘En la Puerta del Sol. High-Liffe [sic]’, Madrid Cómico , 270 (21 April 1888), 4 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

3.6 Mecachis (pseud. of Eduardo Sáenz Hermúa), ‘High Life’, La Caricatura , 7 (15 December 1884) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

3.7 Juan Llorens, Historia de un gallo social , ca. 1860–70. Broadside, wood engraving and letterpress. 43.8 × 32.1 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Max G. Wildnauer Fund)

4.1 ‘Los vendedores de Madrid’, Museo de las Familias , 6 (25 December 1848), 273, 276 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.2 Julio Gros, ‘Galería de tipos. El sabio de café’, Blanco y Negro, 127 (7 October 1893), 661 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

4.3 Ramón Cilla, ‘Tipos’, Madrid Cómico , 349 (26 October 1889), 5 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

4.4 Ramón Cilla, ‘Nacionalidades’, Madrid Cómico, 163 (3 April 1886), 4–5 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

4.5 Juan de la Cruz Cano y Olmedilla, Modista (dressmaker) in Colección de trajes de España, tanto antiguos como modernos que comprehende todos los de sus dominios , vol. 5 (Madrid: Casa de D.M. Copin Carrera de S. Gerónimo, 1777–83) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.6 Josep Lluís Pellicer, ‘Las modistas’, El Mundo Cómico , 2 (10 November 1872), 4 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.7 José Cuchy, ‘Galería de tipos. La modistilla’, Blanco y Negro , 122 (2 September 1893), 589–90 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

4.8 Almanaque festivo para el año de 1877 (Madrid: Murcia y Martí, 1876) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.9 La modista felicita a ud. las pascuas de navidad (The dressmaker wishes you a happy Christmas), ca. 1900–20. Felicitaciones de Navidad de oficios. Modistas. Cromolithography on paper (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.10 Tomás Capuz, ‘Madrid. La esquina de la Calle de los Peligros’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 29 (15 December 1870), 464 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

4.11 Luis José Sartorius, Plano de la antigua y nueva Puerta del Sol, con la planta y numeración de las casas a que afecta la reforma , ca. 1840–56. Map (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.12 Juan de la Cruz Cano y Olmedilla, ‘Aguador de compra’, Colección de trajes de España, tanto antiguos como modernos que comprehende todos los de sus dominios , vol. 5 (Madrid: Casa de D.M. Copin Carrera de S. Gerónimo, 1777–83) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.13 Juan Carrafa, ‘Aguador’, Colección de trajes de España 1832 (Madrid: Calcografía Nacional, 1825) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

4.14 CR (?), ‘Sketches in Madrid,’ Illustrated London News (1 April 1876), 333 (©The British Library Board)

4.15 Francisco Pradilla, ‘Madrid. En la fuente de Lavapiés’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 23 (16 June 1872), 360 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

4.16 Josep Lluís Pellicer, ‘Los trenes de recreo’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 35 (22 September 1876), 180 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

4.17 ‘El tren botijo’, postcard printed by Hauser y Menet, Madrid, and sent to St Leonards-on-Sea, England, in 1902 (collection of the author)

4.18 ‘El tren botijo’, Blanco y Negro , 175 (8 September 1894), 576 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

5.1 Mecachis, ‘¿En qué pensamos?’, Blanco y Negro , 97 (11 March 1893), 179 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

5.2 Juan Comba, ‘Costumbres madrileñas. El último tranvía’, La Ilustración Española y Americana, 1 (8 January 1891), 22 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

5.3 David Perea, ‘Costumbres madrileñas. Paseo de carruajes en la fuente de la Castellana en una tarde de primavera’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 11 (22 March 1876), 200–1 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

5.4 Ramón Cilla, ‘Madrid’ (detail), Madrid Cómico , 287 (18 August 1888), 4–5 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

5.5 Mecachis, ‘Chulerías’ (detail), Madrid Alegre , 8 (23 November 1889), 4–5 (Biblioteca Regional de Madrid)

5.6 Ramón Cilla, ‘En el restaurant’, Madrid Alegre , 77 (16 November 1889), 5 (Biblioteca Regional de Madrid)

5.7 Domingo Muñoz, ‘Los perdidos o los borrachos’, El Mundo Cómico , 158 (30 January 1876), 1 (Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica. Creative Commons (CC) licence)

5.8 Josep Lluís Pellicer, ‘Apuntes de Madrid. ¡Pobre Madre!’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 3 (22 January 1877), 52 (courtesy of HathiTrust)

5.9 Domingo Muñoz [?] ‘Cróquis [sic], por un Inocente’, El Mundo Cómico , 9 (29 December 1872), 6 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

5.10 Mecachis, ‘Un artista precoz’, La Caricatura , 45 (2 September 1885) (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

5.11 George W. Joy, The Bayswater Omnibus , 1895. Oil on canvas, 172 × 120 cm (© Museum of London)

5.12 Narciso Méndez Bringa, ‘Tipos y costumbres de Madrid – En el tranvía’, La Ilustración Española y Americana , 1 (8 January 1888), 28 (Biblioteca Nacional de España)

5.13 ‘El tren botijo’, Blanco y Negro , 277 (22 August 1896) (courtesy of HathiTrust)


This book would not have been possible without the support of several institutions and individuals. Special thanks to Antonio Urquízar and Luis Sazatornil for their support over the years, and to a number of colleagues who offered their expertise throughout the research of this project: Alicia Cámara, Marie-Linda Ortega, Carlos Reyero, Andrew Ginger, Simon Lee, Margot Versteeg, Vicente Pla, Domingo Moreno de Carlos, Isabel Ortega, and Jessica Hinds-Bond. I am grateful to the Department of Art History and librarians at UNED, the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture at the University of Westminster, and the Art History Department at the University of Zurich. Thanks to my friends and colleagues at the Department of History at Florida International University, Alex Cornelius, Saad Abi-Hamad, and Erika Hartlitz-Kern for her always sound advice and tips on how to write. As I was struggling to finish this book, I asked Aurora Morcillo for recommendations to overcome the writer’s block that was keeping me from wrapping up the conclusion and putting an end to a project that had been part of my life for so long. She told me exactly what I needed to hear. I will miss her words of encouragement and her advice on how to work without forgetting how to live. I am also grateful to the staff at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Biblioteca Regional de Madrid, Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica, Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, HathiTrust, and Museum of London for their efforts in swiftly finalising image permissions from their homes in the midst of the global pandemic that caught us all off guard. Work on this book was made possible by a grant from the Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte of Spain and the Association of Print Scholars, New York. Permission to reprint portions of the book was granted by Routledge and Cambridge Scholars. Portions of my book chapter ‘On and off the tram: Contemporary types and customs in Madrid’s illustrated and comical press (1874–1898)’ are reproduced with permission of Routledge through PLSclear. Excerpts from ‘A patchwork of effects: Notions of walking, sociability, and the flâneur in late nineteenth-century Madrid’ are published with permission of Cambridge Scholars.

To my parents, thank you for your continuous encouragement. I thank my family, my brother and sister, and friends Jorge, Oliver (lo prometido es deuda), José Bellido, and Eloísa for her vitality. This book is for my forever patient husband Juan Pablo, who reviewed multiple versions of this manuscript, never grew tired, always made sure there was food in the fridge, and took care of our precious Lucas.

Introduction: Decentring modernity

A heated discussion arose in Madrid’s main illustrated newspaper in 1871. The editor of La Ilustración Española y Americana published a somewhat acrimonious piece aimed at another well-known periodical of the time, New York’s Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.¹ The Spanish editor openly disapproved of an illustration the other publication had printed earlier that month depicting Madrid’s main square, the Puerta del Sol. The image that created such fuss had intended to capture the anticipation surrounding the proclamation of the new progressive government. Instead, it portrayed the square and its people in an unsophisticated manner that failed to reflect the modern appearance of the renovated square, or the plural and conflicting political ideologies that truly existed, according to the magazine, among the city’s populace. The Spanish paper criticised the drawing’s lack of accuracy and censured graphic artists who ignored ‘la verdad histórica’ (the historical truth) and, instead, generally sketched ‘à bon plaisir’ (how they pleased). La Ilustración Española y Americana reprinted the illustration a few months later, and specified in the caption that the depiction of the Puerta del Sol and popular types in traditional attire was not executed by local artists but ‘según artistas extranjeros’ (according to foreign artists). The controversy might have been further ignited by the fact that the Puerta del Sol had undergone an important facelift just a decade earlier, the largest urban renovation project ever seen in the capital, which made the picture’s outmoded portrayal of the square all the more distressing. Almost a century and a half later, a similar debate emerged when Spain’s leading newspaper condemned the New York Times for publishing a piece that described Madrid as a provincial capital and evoked images of small children dressed in the same old-fashioned style as their parents.² Once again, and in a completely different context, the thorny subject of modernity found its way onto the pages of the press. These episodes may seem anecdotal, but they highlight several key issues: our convoluted understanding of modern and local life, the tricky relationship between convenient stereotypes and what we perceive as truth, and the pace at which reproductions of images and texts from distant places could travel and alter the way societies viewed themselves, the world, and others. These are some of the themes that will be dealt with throughout this book.

The history of any city is not straightforward; there are as many accounts of a city as there are ways of writing, experiencing, and representing it. Furthermore, any exploration of the life of industrialised cities demands a reckoning with the elusive yet unavoidable concept of modernity. Today, as in the nineteenth century, the meaning of modernity – as well as the meaning of culture, city, or art – is in continuous flux, evolving alongside our changing academic disciplines and understanding of the people and places that surround us. Enquiries into the significance of modernity respond to a desire to come to terms not only with the past but with the place we occupy in the world, in time, and in history. Responding to this undertaking, this book does not aim to reach a conclusion about modernity, but rather seeks to understand the motivations that prompted nineteenth-century citizens to reflect about what being modern meant in their daily lives.

Madrid on the move began as a study of representations of modern life in Madrid’s illustrated press. While illustrations might at first glance seem to provide a complacent view of city life and popular social types engaging in daily activities, their representations of ‘modernity’ were variegated and complex, and these images were underpinned by deeply embedded concerns about the past and the future. An ongoing effort in the Spanish capital was made to determine what it meant to be modern, both on a local scale and in an increasingly interconnected world setting. The discussion that unfolded on the pages of La Ilustración Española y Americana points to the importance of this question for Madrid’s nineteenth-century inhabitants. Examining how nineteenth-century commentators and artists went about the slippery subject themselves gives insight into how change and continuity were negotiated through the popular medium of the press. They thought carefully about their mechanisms of representation and experimented with forms of visual and textual expression to help convey the unstable yet flexible meanings of concepts like innovation, internationalism, tradition, the past, privacy, and leisure. It is no coincidence that these debates emerged in the final decades of the nineteenth century, a crucial period in the development of printed media and visual communication in Madrid. During this time the uses of public space and the role of the public image as a vehicle of communication were tackled by legislators, academics, and urban planners, as well as by the lesser-known contributors to and graphic artists of the popular press. While certain themes and artistic styles are inexorably linked to specific national and local contexts, exploring how visual codes crossed over various media and national and cultural boundaries is key to any attempt to cast new light on Madrid’s modernising process.

This book tells the story of modernity and visual culture in the Spanish capital during the nineteenth century. It charts how nineteenth-century journalists, commentators, and graphic artists articulated the relationship between the local and the global across Madrid’s visual cultures. The nineteenth century marked a crucial moment for cities across Europe and North America. Urbanisation, technological innovations, and the development of a mass culture yielded new forms of spectatorship and new ways of experiencing city life. Madrid underwent these processes just as many other European capitals did, and, as a result, the effects of urban and social change were at the heart of the growing number of circulating images and texts. Exploring debates surrounding new words and concepts puts the spotlight on how nineteenth-century citizens articulated meanings of the modern, what they deemed relevant and valuable, and how they expressed their concerns on both a visual and textual level. Across images and printed media – from illustrated magazines, caricatures, and postcards to journalistic writing, guidebooks, and maps – what surfaced was an acute awareness of the demands of modernisation and a feeling of forming part of (whether half-heartedly or with conviction) an increasingly entangled world. Cultural actors relied on words, visual language, and emotional statements to interrogate the interdependence between the past and the present and between the local and the global, two concepts and contexts that were being conceived and perceived as inseparable. In everyday life chroniclers, artists, and readers mediated change in multiple ways that moved beyond polarised positions and binary divides like those of new/old and foreign/local. Meanings of the modern were not only dictated by linguistic authorities and urban technocrats but were debated, lived, and constructed on a daily basis.

On account of Spain’s peripheral location in Europe and in the historiography of modernity, readings of Madrid’s modernising process have posed a challenge to scholars across disciplines who continue to grapple with the overlapping of traditional and modern elements in the capital’s cultural production. Rather than positioning itself within restrictive divides or revisiting the hackneyed question of modernity, this book hopes to expose the ways in which cultural representations of modernisation were brought into conversation with earlier aesthetic conventions, ideas regarding the past, and processes occurring elsewhere in Europe in a productive and creative way. Therefore, emphasis is on concepts like interconnectedness, intercultural relations, and continuity, rather than on otherness, comparison, and difference. While this study deals with Madrid’s urban landscape and visual culture, it is not a comprehensive account of the capital’s urban or political history, its printing industry, or artistic genres like costumbrismo, nor does it intend to revisit the concept of modernity and evaluate how Spain fared in comparison to other countries. On the contrary, building on the work of historians and visual and literary critics of Madrid, this book aims to strip the concept of modernity of the historiographic baggage that hinders productive thinking about cities that lie outside the canonical narrative of modernity and, ultimately, aims to dislocate the concept altogether. Reframing representations of local life in the increasingly interconnected context in which they were created opens the door to innovative readings of images that may at first seem to be anchored in nostalgia or expressions of nationalism. As the concept of modernity is decentred and diffused, readings of local, regional, and global experience become increasingly heterogenous yet integrated. To say that perceptions of public life and printed images became entangled in new ways across Western cities does not necessarily imply a process of homogenisation nor does it mean that Madrid’s modernity was merely emulating dominant Northern European cultures. Globalisation was uneven and accentuated the many differences that existed between nations and societies at the end of the nineteenth century.³ But at the same time, it heightened people’s awareness of their place on a stage that reached well beyond their city limits and changed the very structures of meaning they used to define newness and localness.

This book engages with several themes including visual literacy, Madrid’s developing illustrated press industry, cross-national exchanges between editorial ventures, fashionable and international phrases and borrowings of words, social practices related to specific spaces like the Puerta del Sol, and the uses of satire, caricature, and stereotypes. While I do not give an extensive account of each of these themes, I hope to show how they were bound up in Madrid’s visual and print cultures, and to elucidate four key issues.

First, the book explores the unstable nature of terminology and language used to define meanings of the modern and novelty. From the mid-1800s, writers and intellectuals in Spain acknowledged the importance of language in the construction of history and notions of contemporaneity and the modern self.⁴ Scholars of Spain note that self-reflexivity and attention to form were important aspects of Spanish literature and culture, suggesting that there was continuity rather than rupture between former aesthetic styles and those considered to be modernist or avant-garde.⁵ Self-reflection and awareness of form are key in understanding Spanish cultural production, but these patterns were not exclusive to Spain at this time. While we must exercise caution when speaking of globalisation in the nineteenth century, ‘self-conscious contemplations of globality’ and ‘connectivity talk’ emerged in public discourses in the latter half of the century and came to shape how globalisation would thereafter be steered.⁶ The debates that surfaced among Spanish academics, legislators, and urbanists as well as social commentators and artists were instances of ‘connectivity talk’, manifested in the acute awareness of language, visual motifs, and past histories and aesthetics. At a time when national identities were being shaped in Europe and the Americas and an interconnected economy and leisure market gained strength, the question of whether there was a middle ground between local and international interests was pervasive in public discourse. Therefore, definitions of the effects of migration as well as novelty and new practices in Madrid, such as roller skating or strolling like a flâneur, were articulated in relation to a broader world setting.

A second thread this book explores is image-making in the late nineteenth century, as a visual lexicon developed that became just as powerful as words. This time was crucial in the history of the printed image and the press industry. Legislators, politicians, and cultural producers in Spain discussed the reach of the printed image, to what extent it should be regulated, and the instant in which it became part of the public sphere. In this sense, the reproduced image moved beyond its status as an artwork and became more relevant due to its role as a mechanically reproduced vehicle of communication. Public discussions and new legislation in Spain, which drew on current laws being (re)drafted in other parts of Europe and the United States, acknowledged the primacy of visual language as a form of communication as well as the uncertainty surrounding a format that showed signs of evolving at a fast pace, as evidenced by the move from early lithography to the latest techniques in photoengraving in the late 1880s. Over time, editors and artists became skilled in identifying what appealed to audiences’ eyes and what would, therefore, be profitable. Like other editorial ventures of the time, Madrid’s illustrated press exchanged images with their peer publications and reprinted images from European and North American papers. Art historians have considered the ‘contact zones’ between different cultures and how they have shaped our understandings of European art since the fifteenth century. While contact made differences apparent and reflected the interests of more powerful nations and social groups, it also allowed for hybrid practices, customs, and forms of expression.⁷ Due to the sharp rise of image-making during the second half of the nineteenth century, cultural contact did not only occur when two actors from different geographic locations crossed paths or carried out a commercial transaction. It also occurred in the mind of spectators who were exposed to images of and from different geographic locations, often reproduced on a single page or issue of a magazine. These non-physical contact zones further galvanised the creation of shared visual language that at once addressed foreign trends and examined aspects of Madrid’s public life. This practice, too, was fundamental in shaping meanings of the modern, the local, and interconnectedness in nineteenth-century Madrid.

From this thread, a third theme emerges: an assessment of the overwhelming presence and persistence of the genre of costumbrismo in Madrid’s popular print culture of the late nineteenth century. This artistic and literary style was rooted in romanticism and the interest in physiological types that spread across European illustrated publications from the early nineteenth century. Costumbrista writers and artists in Spain represented local types, daily customs, and scenes related to daily life. The persistent artistic style and seemingly outmoded stock figures and social types in Madrid’s illustrated print culture, and in the satirical press in particular, tend to be viewed as the final remnants of a conservative and outmoded genre that resisted modernist style and promoted nationalistic views. Moving beyond what Chiara de Cesari and Ann Rigney have termed methodological nationalism and building on literature that studies the synergic relationship between the popular and the modern in Spanish culture, I consider the intercultural and transnational nature of the style, its relationship with collective memory, and its role in easing the transition towards new forms of mass culture at the turn of the century.⁸ The visual–verbal dynamics of the illustrated press not only created a comical rapport between the artist and the audience but also drew attention to visual language itself and to the elusive relationship between reality and representation. New approaches to social types provided both the technological and conceptual grounds for mass popular culture of the turn of the century and would share similar traits with it. Like the costumbrista-inspired themes of illustrated print culture, it was easy to access, interpret, and relate to, and its themes had the potential to cross over to other visual media and forms of entertainment, such as musical plays, photographs, postcards, and cinema. Collections of character types and stock figures were not exclusive to Madrid, but were built on a visual and literary tradition going back to the late 1700s, one that became especially prevalent across Europe and the Americas during the middle decades of the nineteenth century, when national identities were being reframed and national and imperial boundaries were shifting. Depictions of social types shared a similar visual nomenclature and format. Someone from Madrid would recognise the visual codes and cues in a British or Mexican depiction of, say, a street vendor or a water carrier (two widely represented social types) but would probably not be able to read the local idiosyncrasies of class, geographic location, or racial and social distinctions. This, too, is fundamental in understanding formulations of localness and the modern in nineteenth-century Madrid, and further debunks another myth of modernity, that it was absolutely homogenising. The content varied, but the guiding lines of the visual language were similar across national and cultural contexts. In this sense, it was more effective than any written language, as it had the ability to communicate across different borders.

Finally, an overarching theme that binds this book together is the slipperiness of the concept of modernity. While acknowledging Walter Benjamin and his canonical narrative of modernity (one based on new structures of visual experience that emerged in nineteenth-century Paris), this book follows literary and art scholars like Jo Labanyi and Lynda Nead who propose reframing the conditions of modernity and its visual and literary cultures in terms of continuity. And so, the book proposes a rethinking of the concept of the modern experience as a time of in-betweenness – between geographic locations, aesthetic styles, and time frames – and it aims to decentre and diffuse the concept of the modern. In the words of one historian, the development of frameworks that move beyond nationalism allows us to ‘freshly appreciate the ways that the local, [the] regional, and the global are imbricated within one another’.⁹ Rather than gauging how Madrid’s visual culture and urbanisation fared compared to that of other cities, the book hopes to unearth the local and cross-cultural concerns at play.

Eric Hobsbawm eloquently surmises that ‘words are witnesses which often speak louder than documents’.¹⁰ Modernity is one such word, its significance and meanings continuing to be debated in everyday life and across academic disciplines. Terms related to newness, foreign influence, and interconnectedness ignited heated discussions in the nineteenth century, as they do today. Since words like modernity and modernisation were not common in the Spanish language during the second half of the nineteenth century, I have avoided using them in the title of this book. This was a time when the unstable meanings of these words and other neologisms were

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