Fotografia a Catalunya


Proclamation of the 1st Republic in the Plaça de Sant Jaume. La Ilustración española y americana, 8 March 1873. (AHCB)

1. From the engraving to the printed photograph

During the last decades of the 19th century, when large crowds of people began to appear on the streets of Barcelona, it was the engraving that dominated the pages of the press, and the information concerning these events, which would soon dominate the headlines, was illustrated using various techniques that enabled an image to be drawn on a rigid surface. Photography began to make its appearance, albeit very timidly and almost always as an auxiliary element, for the use of in-house illustrators. During this period it is not at all unusual to find the engravings credited as having been "made from a photograph", or "based on photographs". For most publications it was still technically impossible to serially reproduce on paper the images from glass photographic plates.

La Ilustración española y americana, 8 May 1890. Illustration of photographs by Juan Puiggarí. (AHCB)

1st May 1890, at the end of the Rambla. Engraving by M. Suñe. La Ilustració Catalana, 15 May 1890. (AHCB)

“Digueu-li al capellà que si no posa les vuit li cantarem les quaranta”. Front page of La Campana de Gràcia, 3 May 1890. (AHCB)

Although between 1885 and 1890 some weekly publications began to publish photographic reports, a major breakthrough, there is no evidence of there being a photograph of the First of May demonstration of 1890, when the first International Workers' Day demonstration in the city's history was held in Barcelona. Thousands of workers crowded the streets with the slogan, "Workers of the world, Unite!" in response to the resolution of the 1st Congress of the Socialist International, held in Paris in 1889, calling for demonstrations to demand a reduction of the working day to eight hours. Thus was born one of the most renowned of workers traditions, the First of May, and some of the usual illustrators working for the most prominent newspapers, documented the fact.

Front page of La Vanguardia, 3 May 1890. (AHCB)


Andrés Antebi, Teresa Ferré, Pablo González