Palma anno

The greatest bank of Mallorca, the Sa Nostra Caixa de Balears has a cultural center of its own in the heart of the old city, on the Carre Concepció, in a medieval building with an orange grove opened to the public, with exhibitions, concerts, courses, a café and an unexpensive canteen. And, apart from these last two, all that for free, for the sake of the inhabitants of the city. That’s why it is called Obra Social.

The present exhibition displays for the very first time some two hundred archive photos from the fifty thousand ones preserved in the Escalas Collection which is one of the several hidden treasures of Palma.

This collection is a family archive, increased for a century by a father and a son. Jaume Escalas Aldrover (1847-1929) and his son Jaume Escalas Real (1893-1979) were respected physicians of Palma, the directors of the General Hospital and of the Psychiatric Clinic, respectively, as well as enthusiastic amateur photographers who kept documenting almost with the precision of a scholarly research the landscapes, inhabitants, buildings and everyday life of Mallorca.

Father and son

The first portrait of the son…

…and his self-portrait (to the right)

His sister Antònia

A relative

Unfortunately our photos also reflect the lights of the exhibition room and the pictures on the facing wall. But there was no catalog published. Perhaps Wang Wei will succeed in convincing the university to compile at least retrospectively an album of the photos on display.

The world immortalized on these pictures has gone for the most part. The fishing barrios were swept out, the seashore has been packed with hotels, the medieval city walls were demolished together with a couple of medieval buildings. But the sites still exist and can be identified. And the large-eyed, soft, oval Mallorcan faces have not changed either.

The Monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena was purchased and demolished by a building contractor in the 1960s. A supermarket was built on its place. The arches of the cloister were built into the building of the university.

The hostal near to Algaida is a restaurant still today.

Cabs on the place in front of the Hospital

The Born Promenade where the open air Rodin exhibition was organized recently

The Jonquet fishing district

Gathering olives


Nurses in the Jesús Psychiatric Clinic

The patients and the personnel of the clinic

A patient

Children’s clinic

Travel photos: The Rastro flea market in Madrid

Ambulant dentist on the Rastro

The Barcelona World Expo of 1929 as it was depicted by Eduardo Mendoza in The city of miracles

Palma, the Cathedral seen from the breakwater

6 comentarios:

Megkoronáz A.J.P. dijo...

Fascinating pictures. It looks like it was a wonderful place to live in those days; everyone looks very happy.

I love, in the one next to the gendarmes, the man on a bicycle. He's in some kind of competition, and there's a woman sitting by the striped pole with her hand over her eyes as if she can't bear to watch what's going to happen. What was going to happen?

I like one of the man sitting on a wall, weaving a basket; it shows you exactly how it was done.

In the picture below "The Jonquet fishing district", what are the towers?

I was quite interested by "The hostal near to Algaida", the way each of the columns sits on a rock. It looks as if the shaft is carved from it. And what's that thing on the roof?

In the one below "Father and son", with the father sitting in front of the same backdrop, the two men on the left look (in their pose) strangely as if they were from a scene today.

Thanks for taking the pictures!

Julia dijo...

After AJP's comment, I now see the photos in a different way!

Ojalá se concrete la propuesta de publicar un libro con esta colección. Me gustaron especialmente las imágenes del barrio de pescadores. Al principio sólo había notado la precariedad y pobreza, pero es verdad que dominan las sonrisas. Llama la atención, además, la mirada orgullosa (aunque no altanera), tan hispánica.

Julia dijo...

Ah y me olvidaba: ¿Saben qué es esa escena anticlerical (la del cura siendo atropellado)? Obviamente es algo artificial y armado, no creo que la fotografía de esa época pudiera hacer fotos instantáneas, ¿no?

Megkoronáz A.J.P. dijo...

Oh, I didn't see that he was a priest! Yes, it really looks like an arranged incident, I thought so too.

Studiolum dijo...

Mr. Megkoronázott: You have wonderfully sharp eyes, again. I learn a lot from how you look at these pictures.

The towers on the Jonquet district must be pirate-watching-towers like the Tor de ses Ànimes, the Tower of the Souls of which I have written here and a bit of here toward the end of the post, although I do not have any photos of it myself. Some times these towers dotted all the Western coast of Mallorca to protect them from sudden raids of (mostly Northern African) pirates.

The Algaida hostel’s shaft seem to be carved from one piece of rock, but they also can be of concrete and iron (I cannot judge it on this picture, but there are several examples of this not so ancient solution). And the thing on the roof is a simple chimney, Mallorcan style: Wang Wei has a large illustrated book on Mallorcan traditional popular architecture including several versions of this chimeny (which is quite commonly seen all over the countryside).

The scene with the cycling man is in fact a competition, but I do not no what kind of: it was not written on the label of the photo. I will have to ask the great connaisseur of the island’s traditions Wang Wei both in this and other questions.

I think people look happily on the pictures because this was the way how they felt standard to look when they were photographed. Spleen, Wilde-style, was not considered something to be immortalized on the photos. Nevertheless, theirs could have been a happy life, although the novels of Eduardo Mendoza or Juan Marsé, for example, speaking about those years make you understand the contrary of it.

And yes, the scene with the priest must be totally arranged. Just look at how carefully his hat is put on the earth, or how the driver smiles. But it is a great scene!

Megkoronáz A.J.P. dijo...

Thank you, Studiolum. The Jonquet fishing district photo does look very poor.