This is the only oil study identified to date that Adrien Dauzats painted in Spain during his three trips there between 1835 and 1837, in the company of Isidore-Justin-Séverin Taylor (1789–1879), universally known as baron Taylor. (Dauzats had visited the Iberian peninsula once previously, in 1833.) Dauzats was a major contributor of lithographs to Taylor’s Les Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’ancienne France, one of the most ambitious publications of the nineteenth century, which appeared in twenty-four volumes between 1820 and 1878. Also joining them was the painter Pharamond Blanchard (1805–1873). Prompted by the availability of masterpieces afforded by the recent suppression of religious orders in Spain, their mission was to amass a collection of paintings for King Louis-Philippe (r. 1830–48) that would eventually constitute the Musée du Louvre’s Galerie Espagnole.
Apart from the Patio de los Naranjos, the Giralda of the Cathedral of Seville is the only part of the original complex, which was initially built as a mosque, that survives. The Giralda was constructed as a minaret between 1184 and 1199, by order of Caliph Abu Yacub Yusuf. After the Reconquista, between 1558 and 1568, a Renaissance-style bell tower designed by Hernán Ruíz the Younger was added, and the Giralda reached its present height of 308 feet. Dauzats painted a highly finished, picturesque view of the Giralda, which survives in a contemporary replica of 1837 (Louvre). The present oil study was clearly intended to record the Giralda from a less than iconic viewpoint, substituting an essentially quotidian touristic moment for the timelessness of the picturesque. It is quite possible that the Metropolitan painting was intended as a self-sufficient work of art, albeit an informal study.
Eleven oil studies executed in Spain are described in the catalogue of Dauzats’s posthumous sale (Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 1–4, 1869, nos. 8–18); none has been identified.
[2013; based on research undertaken in conjunction with Miller 2013]