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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 3: The Spanish sojourn: Profound substrata that serve to define both civic and artistic differences between the Tenisons and Spaniards

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← 34 | 35 →

CHAPTER 3

The Spanish sojourn: Profound substrata that serve to define both civic and artistic differences between the Tenisons and Spaniards

E. K. Tenison did not go to Spain until 1850, when he was forty-five years old and Lady Louisa thirty, but it was not long after their marriage in 1838 that they made another adventuresome journey: in 1843, to Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, which gave rise to the edition Sketches in the East Drawn on Stone.1 Although this adventure is certainly not the focus here, its existence prompts some speculative remarks about a few different issues. For example, their Near East adventure fell squarely within the thematic vogue that had been fomented, in appreciable part, by the Napoleonic occupation of Egypt. Also, it fell into the vogue of earlier, turn-of-the-century travelers such as the Count of Volney, who ventured eastward prior to Napoleon’s influx, to places such as the ruins of Palmyra and sites that aroused philosophic – not just esthetic – musings; musings that rang true to the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century moralists who lamented the demise of great civilizations and pondered the far-reaching meaning of such events.2 A model for such philosophic, moralistic musings had been, of course, Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, notwithstanding its focus on a non-eastern subject.3 A more succinct English-language example of such moralistic musings was Shelley’s ← 35 | 36 → “Ozymandias”.4 One wonders if the Tenisons, British travelers...

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