THE DALI EXPERIENCE - Course - 2 classes - Sept.29&30, 2021


    PART ONE / Dali & Freud

    Dali was the first visual artist of his era to seriously question, interpret and pictorially demonstrate the revolutionary Freud's theories of the psychodynamic approach to psychology, which looks to unconscious drives to explain human behavior.

    In this class we explore Sigmund Freud’s influences on Dali’s visual mind, visions, social interactions, personal relationships and of course his artworks, which aim to interpret the concepts of: Free Association, Dreams, Hallucinations, Paranoia, Psychoanalysis, The unconscious, Psychosexual stages, Anxiety and defense mechanisms, Oedipus complex and Psychopathology

    Dali Crucifixion hypercube.jpg

    PART TWO / Dali & Science 

    Even though Salvador Dalí's relationship with science began during his adolescence, it really hit a nerve after August 6th, 1945: the first atomic bomb, Little Boy, was dropped on Japan. As he grew older, he also tried to interpret Science's interrelationship with Religion, especially his Spanish Roman Catholicism.

    In this class we explore how this event opened up a dynamic channel of creative inspiration for Dali and his artworks which now mix and combine various scientific aspects: atomic energy, physics, quantum mechanics, the origins of life, evolution, natural law,  hermeticism, monasticism, geometry, time travel, catastrophe theory, advanced mathematics and optics.


    Days: SEPT, Wed, 29, Thurs, 30 - 2021

    Time: 17:00 H

    Place: Darocas Studio inside Benitachell Properties (opposite Sabadell & BBVA)

    Vaccinations & Masks are required in the classroom.

    Fee for 3 classes: 20 euros for course / or 10 per class / payable at the entrance

    Length: 60 - 75 minutes


    DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION: Saturday, September 27, 2021

    Instructor: Fine Arts Historian, Sr. Karla Darocas, Hons. B.A. 




    Joaquín Sorolla was Valencia's most prolific artist at the turn of the 20th century. From academic and social realism to costumismo to impressionism and luminism, he mastered every genre that he tried.  He was accepted at art exhibitions around the world and his reputation became widely known. But, how did he achieve it all? 

    In this course, we will explore the people and circumstances that came into Sorolla's sphere of influence that helped to propel this master artist to fame and fortune. We will marvel at his amazing techniques as he passes from style to style. In these classes, you will come to know his most important artworks and what makes them still hold their value to this day. You will come to know Sorolla intimately and then you will be able to really enjoy his artworks to the maximum.


    "I really enjoy the in-depth view about the life and times of the artist Sorolla. All aspects of this presentation from his life and times to the information about Spanish history around each of the times of a particular period of his artwork was fascinating. But more importantly, is how much knowledge Karla passes on to her 'students'. The presentations are really fun and the time goes too fast!!! I always recommend her lectures, her knowledge, and her enthusiasm." * Janis Turner 

    "I learned about a painter that I had no knowledge of, from his formative years right through to his death, through the styles and painters that influenced him as his work developed. The paintings were the star of the show. Very inspiring work, especially his use and rendering of light. Beautiful. I enjoyed Karla's informality and organisation and I would recommend her to a friend." * Debra Cazalet, Pego 

    "I had seen some of the work of Sorolla before and was so delighted to have attended Karla's very interesting lecture on this great Spanish painter. His connection with Javea was of particular interest and you gave us a true illustration of his unusual technique and skill." * Lorna Ainsworth, Javea 

    "Karla has a great knowledge of both techniques and cultural history. Sorolla is of great interest to me because I am a Javea resident and so I have a local Javea connection." * Lorna O’Connor, Javea 

    "It was another fabulous lecture Karla...we learned so much about Sorolla and his work through your inimitable and very accessible style of lecture. I can’t wait to see more of his paintings and also look forward to hearing more from you in the future on other artists...thank you." * Gladys Cummings 

    "Thank you for your very interesting talk at the recent Anglo Spanish Assoc. meeting on Sorolla. The presentation was very informative and it was a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to see such a wide range of his work about which I knew nothing. I wish I'd found a seat nearer the front! * John G. Deacon, Jávea 

    "Wow and again wow! What a wonderfully interesting talk on Sorolla that Karla gave to the Anglo Spanish Association yesterday evening. Many of us struggle to understand the subtleties of the development of an artist. What she gave us was a lucid, and well-illustrated, talk on the progress of his abilities and career. For example, I especially remember him being the first to use a white background. I look forward to hearing more of Karla's talks, lectures and tuition." * Keith Hyde, Javea 

    "Karla'a expertise on Sorolla's life and work is both extensive and fascinating." * David Decker, Javea


    Spain’s Modern 19th & 20th SHOCKING Ideology of Women

    In this lecture, we will take a critical journey to the epicenter of Spain's turn-of-the-century art world's blatant misogyny and macho attitudes. It was a time of the industrial revolution which caused the rise of the bourgeoisie and the decline of the nobility and their church imposed charity obligations. 

    In this time of radical upheaval, many women often found themselves in situations that were hopeless and without choices trying to survive in an established social system that made no sympathetic allocations to compensate for their blight. 

    Some intelligent academic artists aimed to call out the hypocrisy of the established fine arts competition system and its judges who defended their manly narrow-minded morality. What they ended up approving and disapproving, at the national exhibitions, in today's society, would be considered absolutely shocking!




    Picasso is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Understanding & Appreciating Picasso will not only help you unlock the meaning behind his artwork but also the psychology of the man and his entry into the modern art era.  

    This course coverers all of the major and profound periods of Picasso's evolution over three-afternoon lectures.

    You will come away from this course ready, willing and able to appreciate and get excited about his artwork in the many art galleries around the world that feature his works.

    19th Century Spanish Summers for the Bourgeoisie

    The 19th century witnessed the emergence of the Spanish bourgeoisie taking their summer holidays by the sea, at a beach or spa resort, that combined health, recreation and social life. The Spanish beaches were filled with changing huts and sunbathing chairs, walkers in their fashionable clothes stylishly dressed parents sitting under umbrellas watching their children swim and many other novel phenomena that contemporary artists immortalized.


    In this FREE SUMMER ART TALK, Karla Darocas will explore the painting styles of several 19th c Southern Spanish Romantic artists and talk about a few of their popular cultural paintings that from an Andalusian expression allude to the modest wooing rituals of couples during their courtship. 


    In this ART TALK, Karla Darocas will highlight the Seville artist Gonzalo Bilbao (1860-1938), a painter of Spanish traditions in the Seville school style. His success came by combining Andalucian elements related to customs, regionalism, and symbolism. 


    ART TALK by Karla Darocas will focus on the emblematic paintings of the Sevillian "garden of the senses" where history, popular past, light, colour, sounds, and pleasant domestic visions yield an appreciation of Sevilla landscape art.

    2nd Summer Season of Spanish ART TALK 2021

    FREE ZOOM LESSONS about some of my favorite Spanish Paintings & Artists and their Historical Stories.

    ** ART APPRECIATION will help you to enjoy your living and traveling in Spain so much more because when you visit the magnificent cultural museums, castles, cathedrals, art galleries, you will undoubtedly see art all around you!!💗

    ADD YOUR EMAIL to Receive Your Invite to ART TALK lessons on Zoom... Great Summer Experience!
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    Lessons give adults the chance to reconnect with learning and/or increase their knowledge base.
    - become more understanding of Spanish culture and formulate new perspectives.
    - gain confidence to travel more in Spain and abroad for fun, for yourself, for fulfillment.
    - appreciate and take part in activities within the learning environment and the local community and make new friends.



    The Carmen Thyssen Malaga Museum has opened a new but temporary exhibition that they are calling, "Painting the Light", but is only there until October 17th, 2021.

    It is a collection of the vibrant and romantic 19th to mid 20th century Catalan masters. This was a fascinating group of artists who were united by their desire to progress art into a modern era but not lose any of the charm and technique of creating an act of the mind and soul. 

    These works are not only intriguing, reflecting on everyday Spanish life, but they are also beautiful. Capturing the spirit of Spanish culture, the art lover can marvel at their magical light, and painterly qualities while feeling like they have wondrously stepped into a retrospective vision of Spain.

    Displayed at the exhibition will be fifty-three works including painting, cultures, and drawings. Evidently, this is the most personal collection of Baroness Carmen Thyssen, owner of the museum and renowned art collector, because these works are a reflection of her personal tastes and interests given her sentimental closeness derived from her Catalan origins.

    The Most Amazing & Famous Spanish Historical Paintings Of The 19th Century

    IN THIS CLASS, we will marvel at the master painters who took the historical genre of painting to an amazing level of complexity and personality. We will be amazed at their narratives and be charmed by their romantic flare. The techniques of these artists are determined by realism and impressionism and blended into an eclectic mix. These are truly the most amazing and famous works of 19th-century historical genre. You will also learn about Spanish history as themes from Spanish legendary stories and tales are recreated for our pictorial pleasure! 

    Late 19th Century Spanish Orientalist Painters of Landscapes, Cultures & Costumes

    IN THIS LECTURE, we will explore the 19th-century Spanish painters who made their mark on the genre of Orientalism. Through the artworks studied, you will learn about the fascinating culture and costumes of the Moroccan culture as fantasized and also recorded by the Spanish, during this era. Please read the Introduction before the lecture so that you are prepared. 


    Orientalist painting in Spain was sparked by inquisitiveness about Morocco. This attraction was for obvious reasons. Firstly, the fact that Spain was close to Morocco. Secondly, the “African War” of 1859-1860, a dispute between Spain and Morocco that hinged on the unrelenting attacks of Berber tribesmen on Spanish settlements in North Africa, especially Ceuta and Melilla, on the north coast. Spain declared war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 and bombed the city of Tétouan (Arabic/ Berber) or Tetuán (Spanish) for two days and then entered the fight until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860.

    19th Century Madrilenian school of Romanticism

    In this lecture, we will learn about the Madrilenian School of Romanticism who followed a style originated by Francisco Goya.


    These painters and paintings were mainly concerned with imaginary landscapes and folkloric customs, largely devoid of social criticism. Much of their market was to foreigners for whom Andalusia epitomized their vision of Spain as being exotic and distinct from the rest of Europe. 


    we will take a look at the visual evolution of the Neoclassical style of painting in Spain from the mid 18th to early 19th century. Explored will be the most important painters of the era and their defining works. Also, explained will be the elements that characterize the Spanish neoclassical as an academic standard that would prevail until the modern era. 

     INTRODUCTION by Karla Darocas, Hons. B.A. Fine Arts

    TRIBUTE - Spain's Royal Neoclassical Architecture & Monuments


    In this class we will explore and analyze the Royal neoclassical architecture and monuments that continue to make their statements in the capital and around the country. The most iconic buildings and sightseeing attractions come from this era.


    INTRODUCTION by Karla Darocas, Hons. B. A.

    The 18th Century Rise & Fall of the Rococo Style in Spain

    In this class
    will look at the historical transformations that gave rise to the Rococo style in 18th century Spain. We will analyze the characteristics of the Rococo style and where in Spain it can still be seen today. Explored will be the materials used to achieve its stylish designs, found both in architecture and interiors and also what ornamental themes were popular. We will also examine the shift in colour palettes, themes and painting materials used to achieve the distinction derived in Rococo artworks.

    INTRODUCTION by Karla Darocas

    Under the new French crown, Spain began its transformation with the reign of Felipe V (1700-1746). This first Bourbon King decided to take some small steps towards engaging in the Enlightenment movement. 

    17th Century Evolution of Spanish Classical Landscapes

    ABOUT this Class

    This class explores the evolution of the Baroque 17th century classical landscape.

    These landscapes were influenced by classical antiquity and the desire to illustrate an ideal landscape recalling Arcadia, a legendary place in Ancient Greece known for its pastoral beauty.

    However, in the beginning of the 17th century in Spain, landscapes were not considered an artistic genre but simply a backdrop for military, hunting and equestrian paintings to fill the Hall of Kingdoms (Realms) within the Buen Retiro palace of the King Felipe IV. 

    Buen Retiro was the recreational palace devised by Gaspar de Guzmán, 3rd Count of Olivares, who was the disastrous, highly unsuccessful and egoist prime minister of Felipe IV from 1621 to 1643. 

    Guzmán decided that Felipe IV needed a new hall to preside over court ceremonies and that it should be filled with courtly portraits of the House of Habsburg plus battle scenes in which the Spanish troops were victorious. These paintings were crafted to affirm the power of the monarchy.

    It is not until Spanish artists got a glimpse at what was happening in northern Europe, with the advent of the Protestant reform simultaneously evolving with the development of capitalism, that classical landscapes, like the still life genre before, was considered a viable genre to paint.

    17th Century Spanish Royal Portraits, Painters & Fashion


    The goal of this class is to introduce students to the different types of 17th century Spanish portrait painters and paintings focusing on the three monarchs and their families that ruled throughout the Baroque period. We will also take a look at the changing fashion trends of their royals as we move through the era. Please make sure that you read the introduction to this class before you attend the class.


    EVOLUTION 17c Spanish Profane Baroque . Zoom Class - 28TH or 30TH of January


    In this class, we will study the great Spanish Baroque painters who created Profane art that had aesthetic appeal in a non-religious context. We will look at paintings that neither denied or affirmed the existence of God, but focused on human agency. 

    The term comes from the Latin compound profanum, literally meaning before or out­side the temple. Profane is also called Secular art because it can be defined as art that has no religious reference points. 
    In its most general sense, it means that which is not holy, or that which does not pertain to a place marked off or an object related to religious practice.

    Through the study of the art, poetry, philosophy, and science of ancient Greece and Rome, Renaissance humanists revived the notion that man, rather than God, is the measure of all things. The dependence on the Church gave away to the confidence that humans can shape their own individual destinies and the future of the world. 

    As the whole of European society was moving away from the dominance of the church, 17th c. Spanish artists started turning towards the profane, depicting ordinary mundane scenes and objects to sell to merchants and enlightened patrons, as another source of revenue.  

    We will explore the 17th c Spanish paintings and painters who made money from their profane art by looking and analyzing Mythological themes, Oddities of Nature,  Philosophers and Bodegón still life themes in this class and Historical themes, Portraits and Landscapes in another. 

    Fill your mind and your senses...

    Karla Ingleton Darocas, Hons.B.A. Fine Arts 


    Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) was one of the great geniuses of painting. He was a master of the Spanish Baroque style, heir to tenebrism and an inspiration to the Impressionists.

    This Sevillian made between 120 or 130 paintings, Las Meninas being the best known worldwide. The bulk of his work were fashioned in the Secular or Profane Baroque with incredible portraits and mythological pieces. 

    Report by Karla Darocas, / 

    SPANISH BAROQUE - part one - Sacred Themes



    In this class we take a painterly look at the evolution of the Baroque genre as it developed in the 17th century. We will look at the earliest Master painters to see how it began and launched the Early Baroque phase, then wind our way through the Full Baroque years to the glorious High Baroque.

    By analyzing the painting styles of the Master painters and their schools, we will learn about their new techniques, tricks and secrets to push the genre. 

    Also will be explored the Catholic Reformation politics that governed the movement like a propaganda tool to keep the faithful strong and in place. 

    However, the Spanish Baroque Master painters were more than just tradesmen working for the cause, they were intelligent, educated and enlightened humanists who knew that their gifts were deserving of dignity and respect. Their brushes were able to do more for the people and themselves than just keeping the church in power.

    These visual creator left messages that we are still interpreting today. 


    Spanish DOGS - BUY THE BOOK

    PAPERBACK - 18,20 €

    EBOOK - 9,00 €

    *** Make sure to - LIKE - the Spanish DOGS Facebook Page! 

    Spanish DOGS
    The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture & the Arts 


    Spain has an amazing legacy with dogs. According to the Spanish Royal Canine Society, there are officially 23 breeds of Spanish dogs. The dogs you love probably have Spanish roots. 

    This book traces the historical, cultural, and symbiotic relationship between humans and dogs. It gives readers a new understanding of where dogs came from, their roles throughout Spanish history, social culture, and their relevance in the development of humanity. 

    It is written in easy language with a wit that catches your funny bone. It is also broken down into complete stories.

    If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this. It also includes a complete guide to Spanish dog breeds.


    Karla Ingleton Darocas is Canadian married to a Spaniard and based in Benitachell on Spain's Costa Blanca.  She is an educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.  Her love of Spanish art, architecture, and history is infectious and she attracts art lovers to her lectures. She's also a self-confessed dog lover, with two Spanish rescue dogs, Venus and Mars.  This book is a testament to Karla's love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.

    Her websites are and


    "In her book "Spanish Dogs", the historian and teacher Karla Ingleton Darocas, leads us through the fascinating history of dogs in Spain from the Neolithic to modern times by means of her extensive background knowledge and a companionable illustrative style. 

    I was particularly impressed by the role of dogs during one of the darkest chapters of Spanish history, the Conquista when the Conquistadores used dogs of war as cruel and brutal weapons against the local populations.

    A large part of the book illustrates the history of dogs in Spain with examples from paintings by Velazquez, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla, and other well-known Spanish painters. Although we are familiar with many of these paintings, we may have hardly noticed the presence of dogs there, if at all. Karla directs our attention to these dogs and creates a picture of their role and importance in their respective epochs.

    The last chapter, "Dog of Love", tells us about the intimate relationship between Pablo Picasso and his dachshund Lump. This beautiful story leaves us feeling optimistic regarding the future for dogs in a country where, unfortunately, much still needs to be done for animal welfare.

    "Spanish Dogs" is a recommendation for all dog lovers and also those interested in Spanish history and art. Thanks to Karla for this great book, which is really worth reading."

    * Marianne Pätzold, Colmenar Viejo (Madrid)


    "We see them sitting under chairs in cafes, popping out of handbags and catching frisbees at the beach. If you are lucky enough to have a dog as a pet then they are there to welcome you home.  We see them in today’s modern world and accept them just so. 

    However, reading this book opens up one's mind to a greater appreciation of these animals. Spanish DOGS by Karla Ingleton Darocas gives readers a new understanding of where dogs came from, their roles throughout Spanish history, social culture, and their relevance in the development of humanity. 

    Perhaps you have been in an art gallery and admired a painting and noticed a dog in the scene and then walked on without further thought? After reading Karla's book, this won't happen again. In this book, Karla cherry-picks the best of Spanish artwork and reveals that dogs are often more than just a decorative element. 

    Karla brings the art scene to life, answering the questions: What kind of dog it is? Who is it with and why is it there? Is there a secret message and what is the artist trying to convey? Karla combines her passionate knowledge of the artwork together with the dog breed and places it in the context of centuries of Spanish history. 

    Technically, this book is clearly written. Chapters are broken down into small bites with headings and photos that stir the imagination, allowing you to dip in and out as it suits. This book gives more than facts and figures, it gives knowledge and understanding. After reading it you will have an appreciation for the dogs of Spain, no matter where you may find them in the world today.

    - Janet Jager, Switerland


    "It is timely indeed that Karla should write a book re-evaluating the role of dogs in Spanish art and culture.  This current Covid lockdown has led to many of us deciding that we need dogs in our lives for companionship and for exercise.  Yet again,  the role of the dog in our society is being looked at afresh. 
    Karla’s book traces how the symbiotic relationship between humans and dogs goes back at least to Neolithic times.  There is much evidence such as the careful and dignified burial of owner and dog together in many ancient cultures to suggest that dogs were, as Karla observes, seen as part wild, part human, and part divine.  

    Some ancients saw dogs as having healing powers leading to dogs being laid on to the bodies of sick people or to lick wounds. 

    Small dogs were bred to be companions to children whereas 90kg mastiffs in armour performed a valuable role in battle.  The Romans at least were not averse to dog sacrifice to ensure a good harvest.  

    In many ways, Karla demonstrates that dogs have always been more than just working animals.

    As artists discovered painting on canvas dogs was co-opted into a storytelling role.  In a world without television or radio (let alone the internet) paintings were there to both entertain and inform.  

    In Velasquez’s painting of Jacob being told of the death at the hands of the wolves of Joseph, his favourite son, it is a small dog barking at the bottom of the painting that reminds us that Joseph’s brothers are lying about fate of Joseph.  In one of Velasquez’s court paintings, we see him portraying very sweetly Felipe IV’s young son, Prince Felipe Prospero.  In the painting, Velasquez has placed a small spaniel next to the child on a throne-like chair.  The Prince was very sickly and died at the age of four.  Was Velasquez signaling that the dog had more chance of acceding to the throne than his little master?  

    Karla’s book is full of such insights.

    We learn how small dogs were used to complete the nuclear family in a Catholic propaganda campaign where artists were charged with tackling licentious behaviour in the late 1600s.  

    Dogs often appear as symbols of fidelity in paintings celebrating a wedding.  We also see how the treatment by artists of hunting dogs could send a message of either the success of Kings in war or, with the more enlightened views of Goya, remind us we were to some extent slaves to circumstances.  

    After reading Karla’s book you will look again at the dog in any painting and ponder on what he is there to tell us about his owner and ultimately about ourselves."

    * Chris Tucker, Javea


    "Karla’s latest book Spanish Dogs is an extensive history on dogs from prehistoric times until the present day. 
    A couple of things stand out in my mind, after having read this book.

    For example, I never knew that dogs, mainly Mastiffs, were used during times of war during the Middle Ages. Clad in armour they would charge at the horses during cavalry brandishing on their backs canisters of burning resin which would spook the horses and bring them down along with the enemy soldiers on their backs.
    I also found the origin of the lapdog, or toy dog, at the end of the Middle Ages to be very interesting. Because of their small size, these dogs would be welcomed in the family home and be depicted in portraits. They would also be used as bed warmers and to attract the fleas away from their very unhygienic owners for whom a bath was a rarity and related to prostitution. 

    Here’s a fun fact from this book! The winter months made it too cold for bathing, therefore being delayed until the Spring, which saw the beginning of the custom of having weddings in May and June. As an extra measure, the bride would carry a bouquet, thus hoping that the scent of the flowers would mask the odour of the body.

    Whether you are a dog owner or not - this book Spanish DOGS is an insightful read into the fascinating world of dogs and the part that they play, and always have played, in our lives.

    The dog really is “man’s best friend.”

    Margaret den Hartog - Javea


    "Well, I must admit that I have never given any thought to the representation of dogs in art. As the owner of two Spanish dogs, I will now. 
    From prehistoric through to the 20th century, Karla guides us in interpreting the art and also engages us to understand better the roles that dogs played in daily life.  

    Karla writes in an engaging fashion and brings the subject to life very well. I often judge people based on how they treat their animals; now I’ll be both notices, and interpreting the dogs I see in art. 

    I always enjoy the opportunity to increase my appreciation and understanding of art, and this book has opened a new window for me to look through."

    Chris Newkirk * Las Peñitas, Nicaragua


    Book Review: Spanish Dogs by Karla Ingleton Darocas
    Published 21st January 2021 | By Sandra Piddock

    Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website,, she describes herself as:

    An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.

    Karla has a Hons B.A. and is also a photographer, author, and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars. 

    Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture, and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.

    From the first sentence, I was hooked, because I share Karla’s passion for dogs and Spanish culture. I also firmly believe that once you stop learning, you stop living, and there’s a lot of learning packed into the 70 pages of this book.

    Don’t let that put you off though – Karla has a wonderful way with words that makes absorbing knowledge a pleasure, and she also has a great sense of humour.

    Describing how court painters Velazquez and Goya painted their royal sponsors, she points out that Velazquez was very keen to underplay the facial deformities resulting from the interbreeding of the Habsburg monarchs. Spanish kings loved to be painted in full hunting dress, with their faithful – and generally subservient – hounds by their sides. It subtly emphasised the idea, first verbalised in the Bible, that Man has dominion over the beasts. (Genesis 1: 26, 27)

    Goya, on the other hand, preferred to focus on the real beauty of his subjects, or as Karla puts it:

    Velazquez used his admirable inventiveness to hide the protruding lower lip and pronounced chin … Goya didn’t modify the royals … On the contrary, we see the monarch, (Carlos III) with his strange small face, beady eyes, and a great big honker of a nose.

    Goya was certainly an artist after Karla’s own heart, using his skills to represent the true narrative and true worth of the subjects of his portraits. In his art, there is no doubt where his allegiances lie. Discussing the hunting portrait of Carlos IV and his hound, Karla notes:

    Looking up at his master with adoration and fidelity, this dog is the most regal thing in this painting.

    This fabulous book gives some great insights into the origins of dog breeds in Spain. The ubiquitous Podencos arrived in Spain as a result of conquests and explorations over the centuries. It’s most likely that the Podencos came across from Algeria, while the distinctive Water Dogs came over with the Berbers during the first Muslim conquest of Spain. Today, there are still 49 different Water Dogs in Spain.

    Another typically Spanish dog, the Galgo, or Greyhound, is believed to have landed on the Iberian Peninsula with the Celts. There’s plenty of contemporary artwork, in the shape of cave paintings, engravings, and pottery, to support these theories, and it’s uncanny to see the resemblance between these ancient canine ancestors and the Spanish dogs we are so familiar with today.

    Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Spanish found another use for dogs, but it’s not one of their proudest moments. The inventors of the Inquisition had a favourite torture method that involved chaining prisoners, then allowing them to be savaged by Mastiffs. Today, these gentle giants are more noted for their loving, faithful nature, which is typical of Man’s Best Friend.

    Overall though, this is an upbeat book, and Karla soon lifts the mood by informing the reader of the term that was used for this barbaric practice. It was called – wait for it – dogging! That’s quite a juxtaposition for modern audiences to deal with, since ‘dogging’ has come to mean having sex with strangers in the open air. In fact, in the popular television sitcom Benidorm, the eponymous resort is said to have a designated ‘Dogging Beach!’

    Karla wraps up the book with the tale – or should that be tail? – of Pablo Picasso’s beloved Dachsund, Lump. Lump arrived in 1957 with photographer David Douglas Duncan, who was doing a feature on Picasso and never left the artist’s side until his death in March 1973. Picasso followed Lump across the Rainbow Bridge just 10 days later. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a suitably emotional ending for a book about the creatures that inspire so many emotions in their human guardians.

    There are so many interesting anecdotes, cultural connections, and light moments that describing Spanish Dogs as just a book about dogs is a bit like saying Jose Carreras, one-third of the Three Tenors, is ‘just a singer.’ If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this.


    "There are tons of books on "Dogs", so what makes Karla's book stand out? I would even say, what makes it exceptional?

    It is the first book on dogs in Spanish history and culture. The means by which she chooses to present them appeals to me greatly - through artefacts and Spanish Art.

    Her time period spans from the time of the Neanderthals to modern times. She speaks of the working dog, the dogs of war, and lapdogs. Her illustrations go from religious art to court paintings. We discover famous painters and their relation to dogs (from Goya to Picasso).

    Her book is very detailed.

    What makes it interesting to read are the many stories and anecdotes that accompany the information. Karla, with her artistic background, leads us into a painting and draws our attention to something we would not necessarily see ourselves, and explains the "why and the how".

    I strongly recommend Karla's book for those who love dogs, Spanish history and culture, and/or Spanish art. Her writing style is easy to follow."

    * Josette Jouas, Denia


    "Spanish Dogs is a fabulous journey. The author, Karla Darocas, had me look at dogs in Spain from the Stone Age through to Modern Day. Along the way she showed me cave drawings, artefacts, pictures, and portraits from great masters, depicting man's interaction with dogs. The result is a fascinating adventure with dogs intertwined with Spanish history and humans. The sad part was the shocking realisation that in many parts of Spain, dogs are not protected and are often badly treated.
    This book tells of many interesting and diverse facts that I had never considered before like how Egyptians worshipped a dog-like god, Anubis, and how the Roman legions trained dogs to be warriors and wear fighting armour.

    It also explained how both the Greeks and the Romans kept small dogs as pets for their children and often buried the pet dog along with the child, enabling them to be together in the afterlife.

    I also learned how the Muslim Conquest of Spain introduced the Berber water dogs that would assist them in fishing and bringing in the nets.

    I didn’t know that in Spain during the Renaissance, companion dogs were kept as sleeping partners in order to attract the fleas that were common on Catholics who did not wash because they might be mistaken by the Inquisition as Muslim and tossed in prison.

    It was interesting to see what kind of dogs the Spanish Habsburg Kings kept for hunting and how dogs would aid beggars and blind street performers.

    Even into the 19th and 20th centuries, dogs took their place in the portraits of famous people.

    I found the whole of this book informative and engrossing. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good read and interesting humanist knowledge."

    - Judy Dicken, Scotland