On Monday 12 April, Stéphany Onfray spoke to us about Manuel Castellano and his photography collection, the subject of her doctoral thesis. After the presentation by María de los Santos García Felguera, Stéphany presented the figure of Manuel Castellano, and especially the collection preserved in the National Library of Spain, which contains 24 albums of photographs (22,000 photographs, portraits mainly), but also drawings, engravings, autographs, manuscripts …
If we compare the size of the Castellano Collection with the few studies that have been dedicated to it, it may turn out to be one of the least used collections in Spain.
Information about its creating conditions and its creator is still very scarce, although, little by little, new approaches are emerging.
The lack of documentation and the size of the collection complicate their global understanding and, above all, prevent determining the reasons that pushed the Madrid painter Manuel Castellano (1826 -1880) to put together thousands of photographs, letters and poems, drawings or theatrical manuscripts between 1845 and 1880.
In order to try to get closer to the Castellano Collection, Stéphany first presented his photographic collection, and then highlighted some aspects related to its meeting conditions, before entering the National Library of Spain in 1872.
She then underlined the richness of the collection, in order to understand how the preserved set of documentary and graphic sources can provide us with key information about the photo albums, and in particular about the twenty-two volumes of portraits. She highlighted Manuel Castellano’s relationship with Jean Laurent and José Martínez Sánchez.
Finally, and before concluding, Stéphany addressed some methodological issues in order to consider this collection as a primary source for understanding Madrid society and culture during the nineteenth century.