The Alhambra, the Nasrid palatial fortress complex of Granada, Spain, has often been represented in paintings, engravings, and literature as the site of a glorious zenith of al-Andalus and as the shining monument to the Islamic dynasties of medieval Iberia. But the Alhambra was also understood as a site of massacres, of expulsions, and of failed empires, and especially of loss. Translating the Alhambra into meaningful narratives and images did not just mean finding an appropriate language and signifiers, but also identifying a correct standpoint in order to signal a subject position. This article examines modes of viewing that not only helped structuredefinitions and guided nineteenth-century audiences toward particular visions and understandings of the Alhambra. It analyzes representations of people looking at the Alhambra, along with the pictorial devices used to frame what an appropriate object of visual examination should be, and how to look at it. In short, this article sees the various representations of the Alhambra as a pedagogy of vision, created to accompany tourist guides and similar publications, and as historical framework within contemporary salon paintings. While the Alhambra is the object, the real subject is viewing the Alhambra.
- History painting
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts