Oblong quarto (13 x 11”; 330 x 280mm). Bound in rose-colored moire silk, embroidered withflowers. In the center is an oval bearing the embroidered name “Esmeralda.” Brown morocco spine(probably later); doublures in gold silk, ruled in gold. Manuscript table of contents at end.Manuscript album on 146 numbered pages (29 are unused) consisting of 79 letters, drawings, andtributes, some multi-page. Very good condition, with some paper cracks at gutter margin. Thealbum was assembled with help, perhaps from her mother (d. 1890) who accompanied her on herearly trips.
Spanish harp prodigy and later feminist educator, Clotilde Cerdŕ i Bosch was the daughter ofBarcelona city planner and engineer Ildefons Cerdŕ i Sunyer (1815-1876)* and the painterClotilde Bosch. Gifted in the arts from her earliest years, she was sent to Rome to study paintingwith Mariano Fortuny. Soon, however, it became apparent that music was her gift. At the age of13 in 1873, she debuted at the Imperial Court Theatre in Vienna with her first harp concert.
The stage name Esmeralda Cervantes was created to differentiate Clotilde from her artist mother.Anecdotes have that her name was suggested by Victor Hugo, after the gypsy hero Esmeralda ofNotre-Dame de Paris (Clotilde was friends with Hugo, and also composers Franz Liszt andRichard Wagner); other stories hold that the Isabella II, Queen of Spain, suggested the name.
According to a long biography in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Cervantes was politicallyactive, especially in her effort to provide training for urban, educated women who had nomarketable skills and, as a result, could not earn a living (May 31, 1964, p. 47). From 1880 to1881, she attempted to create an educational center specifically for women with the aim ofproviding education in scientific, creative, and industrial arts. When she returned to Barcelona in1885, she founded (with Dolors Aleu i Riera) the Academia para la Ilustración de la Mujer, afemale high school devoted to the industrial application of sculpture and painting. It was intendedto provide training for professional women who could then be hired within industry. In 1887,Cervantes directed the publications El Ángel del Hogar [The Angel in the House] and La EstrellaPolar [The Polar Star], both journals about women urbanites.
In 1893, at La Exposición Universal de Chicago, she was both soloist and speaker on the culturalsituation of Turkish women (she had gone to Turkey to teach the harp to the women in the sultan’sharem). In 1895, she founded the Music Conservatory of Rio de Janeiro and the School of Arpa,with the help of Lea Bach, another Catalan harpist.
Esmeralda Cervantes made repeated trips during her life to South America. As a result of herpopularity, honors were heaped on her: “Honorary citizen of the Uruguayan republic, decoratedwith many crosses and medals. Honorary professor of the conservatory of Barcelona, honoraryPresident of the ‘Liceo Esmeralda’ of Spain, of the choral societies enterpe of Montevideo andEsmeralda, Buenos Ayres, of the lyric society La Palma of the hospital oriental, and of thebenevolent society of Buenos Ayres. . . She was honorary member of the philharmonic society ofBrazil and La Lyra of Montevideo, of the literary and union clubs of Lima, of the benevolentsocieties Damas de Beneflcencia, Sociedad de Caridad, hospital Espanol and Sociedad de 3Miseriecordia, of Buenos Ayres . . .” and many others (Daily Saratogian, July 20, 1876, p. 3).
This elaborate album has meticulously collected a host of tributes (in many cases long poems thatwere written by those who witnessed her performances). Interestingly, the writers were oftenimportant educators, politicians, and authors of South America, as well as Spanish-speakingauthors of the United States, whom she met during her trip. The album, therefore, is an importantrecord of the intelligentsia who gathered to watch Cervantes’ performances during her travels.
Among the longer or more elaborate entries are those from the following:
Alfonso, Luis (1845-1892). Author: Noticia del Certamen Universal de Filadelfia en 1876(Madrid: Peroj, 1878) (p. 68);
Bernat, Pedro A. Author: Ensayos Poéticos (Montevideo: La Espańa, 1890), Los FuturosCiudadanos (Montevideo: Bernat, 1876) (p. 35);
Castro y Martinez, Manuel. Drawing of ornate harp (Cienfuegos, Cuba, 1877; p. 76);
Fernández y González, Manuel (1821-1888). Spanish novelist and brother of philosopherFrancisco Fernández y González. (Madrid, 1878; p. 108);
Giralt y Alemany, Pedro (1851-1924). Spanish-Cuban author: El Amor y la Prostitucion Replica
a un Libro del Dr. Céspedes (Habana: Ruiz y Hermano, 1889), Historia Contemporanea de la Islade Cuba (Havana: Avisador Comercial, 1896). (Cuba, 1877; p. 93);
Knudsen, Augusto. Engineer and author: “El Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile: Lo que es y lo quedebiera ser,” Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros de Chile 14, no. 7 (1914): 225-231. (Valparaiso,Chile, 1876; pp. 52-3);
Lanzarat?, Joze. President, La sociedad de beneficencia servicio-dramatica de aficioniado deManzanillo. (Manzanillo, Cuba, 1877; pp. 73-4);
Llosa de Carbonera, Mercedes Cabello (1845-1909). A Peruvian writer and feminist influenced bythe current of positivism and naturalism, she was the initiator of literary realism in Peruvian novels.She wrote six novels of social content and critical intent; the most successful of these were BlancaSol (1888), Las consecuencias (1890), and El conspirador (1892). She also wrote numerousarticles and essays on literary and social topics which were published in Peruvian newspapers. Shespecially advocated the emancipation of women and was one of the first Peruvian feminists. (N.p.,1876; p. 53);
López Montenegro, José. Journalist and union leader who belonged to the body of militaryadministration and participated in the revolution of 1868. In 1869, he directed The RepublicanZaragoza and was influenced by anarchism, so he was expelled from the army and imprisoned forrefusing to swear allegiance the new king, Amadeo. In May of 1871, he left prison and foundedthe Fraternity casino workers and participated in its congress in Zaragoza in 1872. He returned toSpain in 1881 and settled in Sabadell and Sallent, where he worked as a teacher and directed thenewspaper Los Disinherited (1884-1886). He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and theHijos del Trabajo with Anselmo Lorenzo, and spread the ideas of the French revolutionarysyndicalism. (pp. 105-7);
Massot, Adolfo. Argentinean writer and educator. Wrote Bosquejo de la vida pública y masónicadel doctor Manuel H. Langenheim, ex presidente de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Provinciade Buenos Aires . . . (La Plata: Escuela de Artes y Oficios, 1892). (Buenos Aires, 1875; Paris,1878; pp. 17-20);
Pelle, Adolf (Adolphe Pelleport). Secretary to Victor Hugo. Invitation to Une Soiree Victor Hugo(Paris, 1874; pp. 43-6);
Salazar del Valle, Don Ricardo. Double-page drawings (Saratoga, New York, 1876; pp. 71-2).
*Her father was engineer - planner and author ldefons “Pia” Cerdŕ, of Barcelona. He was ancivil engineer, town planner, architect, jurist, economist, politician, militiaman. He was one of thefirst modern town planners.
“La hija de Cerdá. Otra Barcelonesa Universal: Esmeralda Cervantes” [Another UniversalBarcelona Lady: Esmeralda Cervantes]. La Vanguardia Espańola (May 31, 1964).http://hemeroteca.lavanguardia.com/preview/1884/12/09/pagina-47/32680174/pdf.html?search=esmeralda%20cervantes.
Jenkins Wood, Jennifer. Spanish Women Travelers at Home and Abroad, 1850-1920: From Tierradel Fuego to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Bucknell University Press, 2013, p.114. (Inventory #: 1320)