Completed Continental European after 1800 30 Who painted 'A Spanish Music Girl'?

Topic: Artist

I am afraid this cannot be by the Manuel Castro who worked before 1795–1805. In subject and style this painting is clearly some 100 years later, late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

The collection has no further information.

Andrew Greg, British 19th C, except portraits, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. We established that the artist is not Manuel Castro (active before 1795–1805), as previously listed on Art UK, but most likely an Andalusian artist involved in producing advertisements, as this is one of many versions inspired by a promotional painting or poster for the Sherry trade based in Jerez, Andalusia, in southern Spain. The artist has been recorded as ‘M. Castro’, as signed, and the work dated to 1890 or earlier. The title has been updated to 'Spanish Woman Drinking Sherry'.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Martin Hopkinson,

Would it be possible to have an enlarged detail of the signature? For it seems possible that it is a different surname.

Museums Sheffield,

We agree that this cannot be Manuel Castro. The following is also written on the reverse: 'Souvenir bought in Seville June 11, 1890'
See attached close up of signature.

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Whatever the 'M' stands for, Castro is hardly a rare Spanish name so it may be a late 19th-century local painter, not of wider recorded reputation, who did this sort of 'souvenir' at the time.

Kieran Owens,

This painting depicts a woman in the traditional dress of a gypsy or a flamenco dancer from the Andalusian region. She is holding a 'cane' or stemless glass, filled with what should be the fino sherry known as Manzanilla, which is made close to the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. On the table is a Cañera, a utensil in the form of double tray, with holes in the upper part to hold the 'canes' or glasses when serving this particular drink. Other Spanish paintings from the late 19th century, which show the region of Jerez and Cádiz, also feature this style of tray. Jerez is just under 60 miles from Seville. Pointing this out might help narrow down the area from where the artist came.

Kieran Owens,

Attached is a Moorish scene, painted by a Manuel Castro, whose signature (also attached, for comparison) is very similar to that as seen on this discussion's work. It was found on this sale site:

If these artists are one and the same, then this Manuel Castro is perhaps more than just a local hack churning out tourist souvenirs.

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Kieran Owens,

Attached is an image, sent be the kindest courtesy of a colleague in Spain, of a painting in the collection of the Cellar Real Tesoro (Grupo Esteves) ( tesoro ).

The work bears extremely close similarities to this discussion's one. There can be little doubt that our discussion's painting was created in the fashion of a promotional or advertising medium for the Sherry trade based in Jerez in South Western Spain.

The model depicted in both paintings is clearly the same person. Sadly, the newly-identified work is not signed, but further enquiries are being made to determine if the painter was recorded in the account books for the sherry (or in this case, more likely manzanilla) producer.

Jacinto Regalado,

The Real Tesoro picture looks to be by a more technically accomplished hand, though no doubt the Sheffield picture is either "after" it or in a closely related vein.

Osmund Bullock,

I would think after it, in view of the inscription about ours being a souvenir bought in Seville. But well done, Kieran, for tracking that down - I can't imagine how you did it!

Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, Pieter, so the Sheffield picture can be dated ca. 1890s.

Jacinto Regalado,

The title could be changed to "Spanish woman drinking sherry." The current attribution to a Manuel Castro active before 1795-1805 sounds clearly wrong as much too early. How does Sheffield know the M. in the signature stands for Manuel? A more likely possibility is Miguel Castro, a painter documented as active in Seville in the first decade of the XX century (1901-1908) and potentially earlier, associated with typical Andalusian subjects (link below). castro pintor sevilla&f=false

Jacinto Regalado,

I see that Manuel Castro had already been rejected and that the painting was purchased in 1890, so the date is ca. 1890.

Jacinto Regalado,

The chief value or interest of this picture is as a promotional image in a particular advertising tradition associated with the Jerez sherry trade. It qualifies as commercial art, which was meant as such, though it can also be considered as genre painting. Curious how it wound up in Sheffield, but perhaps it may be more appreciated there than it would be in current-day Spain.

Kieran Owens,

Jacinto, you say above "A more likely possibility is Miguel Castro, a painter documented as active in Seville in the first decade of the XX century (1901-1908)". Your reference translated roughly reads: "The few extant references of this artist are limited to his involvement in the organizing committees of the Sevillian Spring Exhibitions, the Belles Arts Center, in 1901, 1902, 1903 (which he chairs) and 1908. In particular, his works reflect Andalusian types, views of Seville and, according to a notice in the year 1901, bullfighting themes."

As illustrated above (3 months ago), the signatures on this work and one by a Manuel Castro are identical. The suggestion is, therefore, that this work is also by this Manuel Castro. Have you seen works by Miguel Castro that would contradict this?:

Here is a probable example of Miguel Castro's style. Alas, the signature is not readable at this resolution:

Kieran Owens,

Also, unless painted within the six months prior to its purchase, this discussion's work, as bought, according to the inscription on its reverse side, in Seville in June 1890, belongs more correctly to the 1880s and is, therefore, a work executed by an artist born in the late 1860s or earlier, unless it is by the hand of a prodigious teenager. Additionally, that is was bought in 1890 does not guarantee that it was painted then, and might have been done much earlier than that date. Was the artist Miguel Castro born in the late 1860s or earlier?

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran, the Manuel Castro dismissed by Jacinto (and everyone else) is the one active before 1795/1805, who must have been born in the late 1770s at the earliest. If there was another Manuel Castro active towards a century later he would certainly be a contender. However, as far as I can see the only evidence *so far* that such a man existed is the single reference you found three months ago to the artist of the 'Moorish scene' on a Spanish classified ads sale site.

The painting appears to be signed 'M. Castro' in a similar way to ours, and indeed seems likely to be by the same artist. But it is on what is not remotely a specialist art website, and presumably it is only the seller who says the artist's name is 'Manuel Castro'. My suspicion is that he is no expert, and merely looked on the internet (or perhaps in a standard work or two) to see if there was a 'M. Castro' recorded; and then finding mention of the earlier Manuel, and failing to appreciate the different periods involved, assumed it must be him.

I may well be wrong about this, but to demonstrate that we need to find more solid evidence of a later Manuel's existence - the attraction of Miguel is that though little about him has emerged thus far, we do at least know he was a real artist, and of the right place and time.

Osmund Bullock,

Sorry, typo: the known Manuel Castro must have been born in the late 1770s at the *latest*, not the earliest.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, that is a very plausible analysis of where we now are. The owners of the Real Tesoro bodega have been asked to examine their various archival sources to see if there is a record of their having commissioned any artist by the name of Castro at any time in the late 1880s/early 1890s. As soon as I have their reply I will post their findings.

Jacinto Regalado,

Kieran, I am not familiar with the work of Miguel Castro; I simply mentioned him as a possibility given what little I could find about him. I expect that whoever painted this picture was a minor artist, and it would probably take people with specialized knowledge of the Seville or Andalusian art scene in the latter 19th century to sort this out with much precision or accuracy. It may be that we are not even dealing with a "fine" artist but a commercial one who produced stock images for advertising and/or tourists. Even if we cannot identify the painter conclusively, your contribution in establishing the connection to the Jerez sherry trade is probably more significant as well as more interesting.

Jacinto Regalado,

According to an article (in Spanish) on the use of imagery from the world of Andalusian flamenco in advertising for the Jerez sherry industry, the women depicted were often famous cantaoras (singers) or bailaoras (dancers) from Jerez, Málaga or Cádiz, and a number of them can be identified from existing photographs of the period. I expect our lady was a cantaora, given the guitar with which she would have accompanied herself. One possibility (which is by no means certain) is a cantaora from Málaga known as La Águeda, whose image is known to have been used in advertising for manzanilla sherry:

The profusely illustrated article I mentioned above is here:

I recommend we close this discussion. The painting is most probably by an Andalusian artist and dates from the late nineteenth century. It is one of many versions inspired by a promotional painting or poster for the Sherry trade based in Jerez in South Western Spain. The title could be changed to 'Spanish (or Andalusian) woman drinking sherry'.

Kieran Owens,

Am I perplexed to understand the need to close discussions which, as has been the case time and again on ArtUK, can unexpectedly spring back to life when some new or existing contributor brings fresh evidence or ideas to the table. Is there an administrative reason why a discussion cannot simply remain open for as long as it takes for the correct attribution or other relevant details to be discovered?

Part of the importance of these discussions is the ability of researchers to pick up the threads of ideas proposed by others and either discount them and propose others, or build on them and shape them into a coherent, plausible and confirmable result. The alternative is that, at some later date, a new discussion around this painting, for one, will be reopened, but without the benefit of anyone having access to the large amount of previous research that was applied to it. What is gained by such closures? Surely slow progress is better than no progress, of which there can be little chance at all if there is no possibility of following the line of suggestions in an active discussion.

On a more specific matter, the artist attribution for this painting should at least be updated to delete the suggestion that it is by "Manuel Castro (active before 1795–1805)" as it is currently recorded. "M. Castro" should suffice until such a time as the artist's actual identity and dates are revealed.

Barbara Bryant,

Kieran, you have asked an interesting question about closing discussions on Art Detective. We should await a reply not so much by individual group leaders as by the Art Detective Manager.

Sorry, I have been on annual leave, and have just found this and a related email this afternoon.

Frances, thank you for recommending that we close this discussion.

Kieran, thanks for your comments. The website is very large indeed: 250 discussions on the public part of the site, as well as another 4,000 enquiries in progress behind the scenes (in various stages of consultation with the collections; several waiting to be added as discussions after we have liaised with collections first, as appropriate). The discussions (public and offline) are curated in ways that may not be obvious, such as editing (continual and time-consuming) and the endless job of liaising with collections to obtain the necessary checks and permissions (chasing several times over several weeks or even months in some cases). It’s a lot to look after, aside from the administration of over 3,000 collection accounts. So it makes sense not to grow the website continually without trimming it in areas that seem unproductive. Many enquiries will never be resolvable, even if they are interesting to debate.

Our group leaders are invited to lead on deciding when to call it a day. All are well qualified to make those decisions and if I think there are good reasons to prolong something (as has been the case), I’ll say so and we will.

There’s no problem starting a new discussion on the same topic if you have new information to add in future. In that case we can (and do) simply link to the previous discussion, so no one should be in the dark about previous conversations on that topic. It only happens rarely and all 547 closed discussions remain on the website – that’s a lot of material.

The artist record will be updated to M. Castro as the current attribution is incorrect.