Memories from Spain: The Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt's (1854-1905) travel pictures as souvenirs

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This article discusses two artworks by the Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt (1854 – 1905), related to a six-week-long journey to Spain in 1881: San Telmo Sevilla – recuerdo de la feria (San Telmo Seville – A Memory from the Feria), and Remembrance of Spain (Jewish Girl), also known as A Memory from Spain.

The approach is theoretical, with the aim to examine how the concept of the souvenir shapes our understanding of the paintings’ motifs. The main research questions pertain to how Edelfelt’s Spanish artworks refer to the differentiated object that attracted his tourist eye, containing also his experiences. Questions of metonymy and travel pictures’ parallels to (tourism) photography are addressed. The methodology is based on semiotics according to D. MacCannell (1999) and J. Culler (1981), with particular interest in truth markers. An empirically anchored art historical aspect is contextualised within a framework of theories on tourist behaviour, such as Urry’s (2002) theory of the tourist gaze. The artworks are defined as souvenirs and analysed from a tourism perspective.

The combination of the concept of the souvenir and empirical data as a base for art historical analysis of travel pictures, is particularly successful: the pictures’ function as truth markers serves as proof of that ephemeral but real experiences have taken place; the artworks’ titles refer to the memory function, anchoring the pictures in time and place, like truth markers do. This adds to art historical analysis, framing empirical evidence within a broader context of travel behaviour and souvenir production.
Translated title of the contributionMinnen från Spanien: Den finländske målaren Albert Edelfelts (1854-1905) resebilder som souvenirer
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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