The People of Gibraltar
1860 - Tableau Vivants - Bishop Scandella on the Left?

Bishop Scandella and the Misses Broome - Kenneth Mackenzie and Miss P. Galliano
Captain Griffiths and Gloria Galliano - Miss Pelegrina and Sir William Codrington 
Lady and Miss Mary Codrington - William Earle and Sir Richard Airey
Lady Harriet Airey, Miss Katherine Airey and  C. V. Cumbo

During the late 19th and early 20th century it became a popular pastime for groups of well-off gentry to dress up and adopt dramatic poses which ranged from monumental representations of famous historical events to the more down-to-earth portrayals by groups of friends adopting appropriate poses while dressed up in typically traditional costumes of the era. The end results of these posed representations – which were meant to be either painted or photographed - became known by the fancy French title of “tableaux vivants”.


People of Merida in typical dress – a tableaux vivant by Charles Clifford who also took some of the oldest known photographs of both Algeciras and the Rock (See LINK

I am not entirely sure just how popular this activity was in Gibraltar but there are enough extant examples to suppose that there were people on the Rock with the inclination and money to give the “new” fad a try – although on the whole their versions were mostly restricted to the use of costumes and traditional activities associated with them.  The examples shown below are all photographs - so far I have not been able to come up with any painting that might qualify as a tableaux - which might suggest that photography was the medium of choice for this activity in Gibraltar.


“A Group of Smugglers in Gibraltar” or “A Spanish Bar in Gibraltar 


Attributed to either Francis Frith (see LINK) or Robert Peters Napper – the former is probably the publisher. It supposedly shows Gibraltarians dressed in mid 19th century British style civilian clothes or in the Spanish costumes of the Campo area. According to local historian Tito Vallejo the second person seated from the left is none other than the Bishop of Gibraltar – Dr John Scandella – I have my doubts


Dr John Baptist Scandella – Vicar Apostolic of Gibraltar


“The Misses Broomes, the Misses Galliano and Mr Mackenzies” 

The plate is dated - “Gibraltar Decr 1865” – The bullfight poster advertises a Lucida Capea in Ronda which is a fair distance away from Gibraltar. As regards the people in the tableaux the Misses Galliano’s may have been part of a well-off family who owned a private bank in Main Street. (See LINK


“Miss E. Broome, Miss P. Galliano and Captain Griffiths” 

Probably also taken in 1865 - I can’t make out whether the tableau refers to a specific artist. 


“Miss Cruz, Miss Galliano and Mr. Mackenzie” 

Also probably photographed in 1865 – The lady being serenaded is Miss Cruz and the one with the fan must be Miss P. Galliano who also appears in the two previous photographs.


“Gloria Galliano, Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie and Miss Pelegrina”

Also dating from 1865 this is the earliest of the Galliano photographs. It shows from left to right, Gloria Galliano, Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie and Miss Pelegrina. In all four of the above photos the man is dressed in what must have been thought of as the traditional costume of the Spanish peasant 



The Garden at the Convent, the Governor’s residence in Gibraltar 

It has been suggested that the man with the white chops looks like Sir William Codrington (see LINK) – Governor of Gibraltar from 1859 to 1865 - and that the lady on his left might be  his wife Mary and the other one his daughter who was also called Mary. One of the two military men could be Codrington’s Aide-de-Camps and the other perhaps William Earle, Mary’s fiancĂ©


Sir William in 1855 and Lady Codrington in 1861

Another possibility is that the gentleman is Sir Richard Airey (see LINK) – Governor from 1865 to 1870 – and that the ladies are his wife Harriet and his daughter Katherine.


Sir Richard and Lady Airey

 If either of these alternatives is true then of course the photograph is simply a family portrait and not a tableau vivant


The next set of photographs seems to have been taken more or less at the same time and at the same location either in Algeciras or perhaps San Roque. The date is unknown but there is some suggestion that the photographer may have been John Hollingworth Mann. (See LINK) If so they are probably somewhat more recent that the proceeding ones. 

All of them differ from those shown above in that they were probably all produced commercially – almost certainly  by C. V. Cumbo, (see LINK) an important Gibraltar publisher of souvenir photographs and postcards. 



The Spanish song


  A Gipsy Dancer


Bull fight ticket office

This is the same place done up with a bull fight poster and ticket office sign together with a few extras going through the motions of buying tickets for the corrida. 


Writing a Spanish love-letter 


A Spanish letter writer

Being illiterate or at least unable to write anything worth reading was the norm within the Spanish peasant community of the Campo area at the time.


The bun Maker


I think the sign says that she is selling buñuelos which are a type of doughnut made of the same kind of dough used for traditional churros or waffles.


The Smuggler inamoratas 

On the whole, British travellers of the 19th century – particularly the women – though of the Spanish smuggler as a romantic figure - despite the fact that most of them were just ordinary people who were in it because at the time it was the only way open to them to make a living.  (See LINK)


Spanish group, Gibraltar

Almost certainly not Gibraltar as it’s taken in exactly the same spot as previously. They seem to have forgotten to take away the bull fight poster. 


A Drinking Spanish Brawl

A different place but this is almost certainly the same house. The lad on the right appears to be carrying an over-sized flick-knife.



The Novios


Waiting for an answer


To end with an appropriately grand finale  . . . 


Spanish Dance 

This undated and embarrassingly awful photograph was used for postcard purposes – presumably somebody thought it might sell well as a sort of souvenir for visiting sailors. Perhaps it shouldn’t be described as real tableau vivant as the sailors could easily have been real sailors and the guitarist and dancers the real McCoy.