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Let’s start by saying that Sigurd Curman was the great mind behind the restoration of Swedish monuments, similar to what Viollet-le-Duc did in France –he was the man who restored Notre Dame and the Gothic jewel of Sainte-Chappelle in Paris–; or Ruskin in England with his numerous publications on restoration; Aloís Riegl in Vienna, Camilo Boito in Italy or Velázquez Bosco in Spain. 

The Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology (Tekniska Museet) is the biggest museum of its kind in Sweden. The museum is responsible for preserving the Swedish cultural heritage related to the country’s technological and industrial history. Its collections consist of more than 50,000 objects and artifacts,  200,000 drawings, 620,000 images and just over 50,000 books.

At this point I found some curious and strange pictures of Córdoba around 1910. At that time Sigurd Curman was touring the South of Spain with the sole intention of documenting and studying the restorations that by then where taking place in the country. Also, that very same year, Velázquez Bosco was restoring the Mezquita. I ignore whether they met or not, although it is very likely that such an encounter took place. By 1910 they were both famous, acclaimed restorers of big monuments.

Almost all the documented images of this trip portrayed the city of Granada, giving us valuable records that tell us about the Granada of the early XXth century. Sigurd Curman also stopped by Sevilla and Córdoba, but the documented images were not as many. Roughly a dozen pictures were taken in Córdoba. Among them, I handpicked three that are very interesting to examine .

The first picture shows the surroundings of the Bridge Door. This picture was not taken by Curman himself as, if we look closely, we can see Sigurd with his own camera taking pictures of the front door. We know it is him by his characteristic hat, jacket and white hair. Above you can fully distinguish him in the augmented picture.

Curman had always debated himself between sciences and humanities. He graduated from physics, chemistry, mathematics and history of art; he was the greatest mind in the country as far as Swedish history of art goes, he was also an archaeologist and an anthropologist –I can’t imagine how he managed to excel in so many areas. There, in front of the Bridge Door, portrayed while taking pictures, Curman seems to be contemplating everything that had ever crossed the door up until that moment. He takes two photographs of the Door: taking two shots  at the same place was not common back then. The “hunter hunted” portraying everyday life crossing the Door, a close insight on the simple routines of Córdoba during that impoverished early XXth century.

These two pictures taken by Sigurd Curman are an interesting tale about the activities of the city that is worthwhile; hens and dogs wandering for food, the regular costumers in the tavern awaiting unknown futures, women busy with the daily grind, mules pulling carts, the station of the custom officer, kids…

Even though they are but damaged negatives, I also wanted to add these other pictures by Curman. One of them a view of the Plaza del Potro taken the same year Albert Khan took his color photos for the “Planet Archives” of which we had already talked about in a previous article. The other one depicts the Calleja of Saint Zoilo next to the church of San Miguel.


 

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