The story of Juan Giroud, a distinguished merchant and collector

Mary Peppa Larra

Juan Giroud was a merchant who was born in Gibraltar in 1797 and settled in Malaga around 1825. He participated as partner, with Agustín Heredia, in the factory “La Concepción” in Marbella. In 1841, Giró created and directed El Ángel iron ore production at Río Verde in Marbella with three blast furnaces and refineries in Málaga. The latter was built in the eastern part of the city, on the so-called “La Bonita” farm: land he owned, between Cañada de los Ingleses and the English cemetery, towards the beach. The foundry occupied the place where today there are the so-called “Casas de Cantó” in La Malagueta. The decade 1850-1860 had its utmost splendor.

However, perhaps due to strikes in those years or competition with the northern formations, these circumstances led to the closing of the “Angle” factory in 1862.

Academy in San Telmo

As we have seen, Giro was a famous merchant in Malaga in the second half of the 19th century, and was involved in the cultural life of that time. We know that he was appointed Commander of the Royal Order of Carlos III. In addition, we ascertained in the minutes of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Telmo, that at the session of November 21, 1850, Manuel Agustin Heredia and Juan Giroud were appointed academics, at their third session, among others.

With some features, through the minutes mentioned above, we will describe the activity of Giró within the academy. Thus, in the minutes of August 18, 1851, Manuel Agustin Heredia was unanimously proposed for the position of second chancellor and Juan Giraud for treasurer. A year later, on February 15, 1852, it was agreed that to fill the position of second chancellor left by Manuel Agustin Heredia due to death, Juan Giraud was proposed to His Majesty’s Government.

In the session of May 8, 1853, with the general examinations of the Provincial School of Fine Arts approaching, and given the budgeted amount for examinations and prizes, Juan Giroud donated 2,000 Qatari riyals to obtain the necessary amount. Objects for prizes that will serve as motivators for young people. The result of these tests can be ascertained at the plenary session on October 1, 1853 which was held to award awards to the students with the best marks in the previous year. Then, the opinion passed to the Academy was read by the elective committee appointed to qualify the works submitted by the students of the different classes of the school. Likewise, it was agreed that the seven prizes, bequeathed by Juan Giroud, to the seven students belonging to the working class, who were honored for their application and technical knowledge, and these prizes consist of six gold coins, worth 320 riyals. Each, while the seventh will receive a shield of eighty riyals.

Continuing to refer to the laws of the Academy, we verify that in 1857 Juan Giroud donated 1,000 reais to the same purpose.

Art collector

After examining his time at the Academy, his active participation, and his interest in the fine arts, we can confirm that he was also a well-known art collector. His home, known as Hacienda Giró – located on Paseo de Reding, on the slopes of Monte Sancha – was clear evidence of this hobby.

After referring to several photos of the exterior of the said farm, surrounded by a lush and spacious garden, we notice a series of Roman sculptures, four of which are located on the main staircase. According to Pedro Rodriguez Oliva, Giroud was an auctioneer of property salvaged from the wreck of the ‘Isabel’, an English ship that was transporting the sculptures from Genoa to Calcutta through the Strait of Gibraltar, apparently sunk in the ship. On the coast of Benalmádena in 1855. So Giró was able to purchase some of these sculptures to install in his garden.

After some time, after the succession of a series of owners, in the 30s of the last century, the Hotel Belaire was installed in the old Hacienda Giró. In 1959, cultural work. Hacienda was acquired by Institución Teresiana to build a school, completed in 1963 and in the hotel they placed the home of Teresianas and students. Finally, at the end of the 1970s, the hotel house was demolished to build the Almar Centre, a Teresi residence, in its place.

But we did get a string of clues that Giro was a great art collector years ago. Juan Giroud appeared in “The Traveler’s Guide to Malaga”, by Benito Villa from 1861, in one of his sections titled “Declaration of Houses With Notable Paintings”.

As we said earlier, his “Gospel” factory was closed in 1862 and we think this event represented a clear economic loss, as we read the following information by reference to the catalog printed in French on its cover briefly: , to be sold at the Hôtel Drouot, Room No. 9 on Saturday, February 22, 1868, Paris».

In the above catalog, the numerous paintings that made up his collection are identified, divided by schools and countries, among them Murillo, Ribera, Tapia, Lucas Giordano, Raphael, Mings, etc …

We do not know Girou’s later life path and the results of the sale of the above paintings, but the catalog served to show the decline of one of the most important figures in Málaga’s cultural life in the second half of the nineteenth century. He died in our city in 1872.

After his death, his widow may have participated in an exhibition with paintings by Juan Giroud, including Titian. This review was published in “The Catalog of the Retrospective Exhibition Held by Liceo de Málaga in June 1874”.

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