Browse the Photographic Archive of Cortijo-Ballester

The photographic collection as a whole made up of 249 positives, 135 negatives and 335 slides (whose authorship is shared by the CORTIJO-BALLESTER couple, although most of the clichés must be attributed to Rosario, closer to the professional field and a member of the Agrupación Fotográfica de Guadalajara) reveals the interest of the couple, especially Francisco, in documenting the towns and enclaves of the Alcarria Baja region and their modern hydrographic infrastructures, a source of wealth and promise of tourism development.

Referring to the content of the collection, let us point out that the most impressive group of photographs is the one that includes the reconstruction and restoration works of the Palacio del Infantado in Guadalajara in the second half of the sixties (a few years earlier consolidation and covering works had been carried out de aguas), works that took off definitively at the beginning of 1965 with the visit of Gratiniano Nieto, general director of Fine Arts, and which, executed under the direction of José Manuel González-Valcárcel, lasted until the early seventies.

The interest of the series also lies in its documentary value, since there are few published images of this profound architectural intervention, including the work of the stonemasons (obviously, many of the original pieces disappeared as a result of the December 1936 bombing). The provincial chronicler Francisco Layna, the main promoter of the necessary salvation of the building, published numerous articles in the provincial press in which he revealed a close monitoring of the works and where he advocated a recovery of the palace from a purist perspective consisting of the reintroduction of the flamboyant-Gothic elements of the 15th century both on the façade and in the courtyard, suggestions of extreme rigor that luckily were not fully met, since the elimination of any of the Mannerist modifications ordered by the fifth Duke did not It is justified from today's point of view.

We reproduce a passage from one of Layna's articles: “The works on the façade will go very slowly because when the building was set on fire in 1936, many stones from the upper gallery and even from the portal were calcined; Like ancient and unfortunate patches, several sectors of the parapet in the upper gallery, as well as almost all the garitones, are the work of crude plasterwork and it is inexcusable and, first of all, to go carving a large number of identical stones, later the little columns and Gothic tracery of all the garitones serving as models of the two that fortunately survive almost intact; Only when this collection of materials is large can the restoration be accelerated. This masonry work is carried out by specialized workers, and whoever wants to check it out has only to enter the palace garden, which has been converted into a workshop. To finish, I will say that following my advice, Tamajón stone is used in these works, from the same quarry exploited to build the palace at the end of the 15th century” (Nueva Alcarria, 3-20-1965).

The photographic collection as a whole (whose authorship is shared, although most of the clichés must be attributed to Rosario, closer to the professional field and a member of the Guadalajara Photographic Group) betrays the preferential interest of the couple, especially Francisco, for documenting the towns and enclaves of the Alcarria Baja region and its modern hydraulic infrastructures, a source of wealth and promise of tourism development. Thus, to begin with, we have a range of images of Pastrana herself, among which are, along with the artistic general view of the town and that of the convent of San Francisco with the seminarian children (this one of thoughtful composition), a large sequence with the Corpus Christi procession and several photos of the Ducal Palace after the restoration directed in the middle years of the decade by the aforementioned architect González-Valcárcel.

There are many images of the Bolarque and Entrepeñas reservoirs, endowed with the visual power so characteristic of public works photography (moles of concrete with a geometric profile) or the plastic quality of natural or artificial lake landscapes. The old Bolarque dam was increased by ten meters and a new power plant was installed around 1960. Later, adaptation works were undertaken for the Tajo-Segura transfer coinciding with the years in which these images were captured: the inspection visit of the Minister of Public Works Federico Silva dates from April 1969. Built in the mid-fifties, the Entrepeñas and Buendía reservoirs (the latter located halfway between the provinces of Guadalajara and Cuenca) materialized the desire for progress, immediately forming a focus of tourist attraction with the name de Ruta de los Pantanos (later Mar de Castilla) whose official inauguration in April 1959 was sealed with the visit of operators of the No-Do and correspondents of the still stammering Spanish Television, although the yacht clubs and hotel complexes rose up only from 1965, the year of the first visit to the area by the Minister of Information and Tourism Manuel Fraga.

The early industrialization of the province is also reflected in the images of the VICASA glass factory (a French parent company) inaugurated in Azuqueca de Henares in 1963 and of the Zorita de los Canes nuclear power plant, the first of the Spanish ones (1968) and recently closed. The remaining photographs, almost all of them more traditional in tone but not lacking at times in strength and a certain sense of humor (in this regard, the surreal still life with the bottle of Tío Pepe is striking), cover the usual themes: costumbrismo, popular festivals, religious acts (for example, the procession of the Crabs or former Knights of doña Blanca de Molina in Molina de Aragón) and monuments, especially castles (Anguix, Atienza, Jadraque, Molina, Torija, Pioz, Zorita de los Canes), since In recent years, ambitious restoration plans have been launched for some of the most important ones: "On the occasion of Castles Day... we think it appropriate to highlight the great work of restoring old fortresses that is being carried out in the province and, above all, the favorable popular environment that exists in this sense. Where just five years ago there was nothing but indifference, if not animosity towards these historic ruins, today there is a constructive enthusiasm among residents and authorities, which translates into greater respect and admiration for the old castles and a declared desire to restore them ”(Luis Monje Ciruelo in Nueva Alcarria, April 20, 1963). In this year, those of Atienza, Jadraque, Torija and Zorita were already in the process of being restored.

Beautiful is the snapshot of the Puerta de Santa María of the medieval wall of Hita, dynamited in 1937 to facilitate the passage of trucks to the square, which we contemplate here on the eve of the beginning of its long reconstruction. We also find snapshots of a theatrical performance within the framework of the famous Medieval Festival of this town in Alcarria, whose first edition was held in 1960.

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