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This Favoured Land

Edward King-Tenison and Lady Louisa in Spain, 1850–1853

Lee Fontanella

In the wake of the Irish potato famine, Edward King-Tenison, a sometime Irish politician of the liberal order and one of the first masterful photographers of Spain, and his wife, Lady Louisa Mary Anne Anson, the eldest daughter of the 1st Earl of Lichfield, left their estate of Kilronan in County Roscommon, Ireland, to reside and travel in Andalusia and, later, in Castile. The remarkable adventure on which these Irish nobles embarked in mid-nineteenth-century Spain led to a husband-and-wife team of astonishing cultural production. While Tenison focused on photography, Lady Louisa chronicled their travels, producing sketches and establishing relations on an international level with other artists, who collaborated in her illustrated chronicle. This book documents the fascinating travels of this couple and presents their work to a new readership.

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Chapter 2: The sociability and civic-mindedness of the Tenisons

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CHAPTER 2

The sociability and civic-mindedness of the Tenisons

Louisa Tenison’s travel account is a sumptuous, highly intelligent report on the Tenisons’ sojourn of at least two and a half years, although it is never clear that E. K. Tenison was in Spain, uninterruptedly, for all of that time. One might wish, for reasons of convenience, to have a tightly chronological report, since that would have afforded a more logical, consecutive picture of their travels. Literarily, of course, we are fortunate that we do not have such a structure. (My final chapter aims at a literal and graphic depiction of their time in Spain.) At any rate, Lady Louisa opens her account with her report on their entry into Málaga and developments during their relatively long residence in that southern coastal city.

Evidence of the extraordinary sociability of both of the Tenisons permeates the pages of Lady Louisa’s chronicle. She was often struck by whether or not a city itself had that characteristic. Málaga did not: “[…] let no one be tempted to fix on Málaga, as a residence, for any other reason [than climate][…] Society there is none; and with the exception of the theatre, there are no amusements whatever which could contribute to make time pass agreeably, and no objects of interest to attract the attention of the traveller. With the exception of Madrid, there is no society in Spanish towns, […]” (25).1 In fact, in...

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