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Street Going Downhill, by Jens Ferdinand Willumsen in 1889, next to how the street looks today.
Street Going Downhill, by Jens Ferdinand Willumsen in 1889, next to how the street looks today. / SUR

A street in Álora, in Denmark

  • In 1889 the Danish artist Jens Ferdinand Willumsem did a painting of Calle Chozuelas, and that work is now on display in Copenhagen

In the spring of 1889, a young man from Denmark came to Álora in search of inspiration. His name was Jens Ferdinand Willumsen (1863-1958) and he was a painter, sculptor, architect, photographer, engraver and art collector who visited the town during a trip to explore Spain. It was there that he noticed Calle Chozuelas, a street which remained fixed in his mind and portrayed on his canvas.

A year before he died, the artist offered all his works to the Danish government and they included this painting, called 'Gade Gaaende Nedad', which in English means Street Going Downhill. It is also known as Street In Álora, and is currently on exhibition at the David collection in Copenhagen.

At the time, the painter, who was 25, said he wanted to "integrate well" into the local community, say sources at the Álora Museum.

Before painting Calle Chozuelas, Willumsen did a previous picture of the municipality, called Big Orange Trees, from the gardens of the railway station, but the whereabouts of that painting are currently unknown.

In Street Going Downhill, Willumsen portrayed a view of Calle Chozuelas from its junction with Calle Bootello. The line of houses on both sides of the street ends in views of the horizon, including Pizarra, Monte Hacho and the Sierra de Mijas, Coín and Alhaurín el Grande.

In his memoirs, collected by the Álora Museum, the painter said of this work: "In Álora I painted Gade Gaaende Nedad, a new and previously unseen subject," he said, and described it as one of the "best works" arising from his first trip to Spain.

These days, the street still has a very similar structure to that portrayed by Willumsen. This work was also displayed in Paris in 2006, as part of a temporary exhibition about the painter at the Musée d'Orsay.

Willumsen, who died at the age of 95, was active as an artist until well into his 70s.

In 1888 and 1889 a French exhibition of contemporary art led him to leave Denmark and head for Paris and then for Spain, a decision which marked the way his style later evolved. On his railway journey from Paris to Álora he passed through Madrid, Toledo, Burgos, Cordoba, Seville and Granada, accompanied by fellow artist Anna Petersen.

Calle Chozuelas is also known, although to a lesser extent, as Calle Alemania. That name dates back to the Spanish Civil War, because the government of Francisco Franco gave some streets the names of fascist countries, such as Germany or Italy. The change back to the original names was carried out during the time that D. José Fernández López de Uralde was mayor, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and those streets returned once again to the names we know them by today.