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The gold of Granada in the photographs of Guillemin-Tarayre

Just a glance at a group of 30 photographs was the first contact we had with an album that illustrates not one but several stories about the Granada Gold Mines… and, as often happens, intuition would have to support the hasty choice of taking them or forgetting them.

We find them at the Bievres Fair, the annual appointment with photography, in which a colleague commented to us “Maybe that dealer has something that interests you”. It is not easy to find one’s way around the multiple offer that this call is still able to offer, but the most veteran collectors already know each other and we know each other’s interests… and yes, that loose folder with a somewhat disparate content of mining scenes caught our attention, but only when we were able to study its content did we understand that these photographs would fill an important void in the visual history of the Genil basin near Granada and its lost industrial heritage.

What luck! a label with a handwritten name on the cardboard that makes the cover, we already had the owner then, perhaps also the photographer: Monsieur Guillemin Tarayre. And in addition, detailed inscriptions at the foot of the photo revealed to us one by one each element that appeared in the images and placed the whole on the planet: Granada, the Lancha del Genil on the outskirts of the city, the gold mining that since time immemorial superimposes on the geography of the Hoyo de la Campana, on the southern slope of the Cerro del Sol, the traces of successive inventions to find those so precious golden pebbles: the gold of Granada.

So it was easy to fix the historical moment as well, since the mining engineer Edmond Guillemin-Tarayre was hired in 1882 by the “Sociedad Anónima de los Terrenos Auríferos de España”, acquired from its previous owner: Carlos Álvarez de Sotomayor, by the famous art dealer Adolphe Goupil in 1880, who learned of these golden sands through the painter Mariano Fortuny.

The biography of the engineer Edmond Guillemin-Tarayre (Aubin, Midi Pyrinées – 1832 – Paris 1920), son of Jules Sebastien Guillemin and Sophie Tarayre, is exceptional, his works show us an intelligent and capable man in the multiple facets.

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