The collector and his collection, Lázaro Galdiano Museum

The collector and the collection on the Ground Floor. Part of the collections that Don José Lázaro Galdiano donated to the State is exhibited in the museum. The ground floor of the museum was original use as warehouse, having been reformed to receive today part of the exhibition.

The rooms that make up the ground floor, a tour of his life through some of the different works of art and different objects that he treasured and that today we can see here exhibited; All of this will bring us closer to Lázaro Galdiano’s profile as a collector and his contribution to the world of European art and culture.

The figure of José Lázaro Galdiano is discovered, highlighting its bibliophile side. A series of showcases exhibit such important works as a 17th-century handwritten edition of ‘La vida del Buscón’ de Quevedo or a book of hours belonging to the Medici.

Room 4 of ground floor is known as the Treasure Chamber. It is the place reserved for the exhibition of valuable jewels that allow you to explore the different stages of history, having pieces that range from the prehistoric period to the actuality. The sword of El Cid stands out, which occupies a preeminent place, the commemorative ring of the jura of Isabel II as Princess of Asturias or the personal jeweler of Paula Florido.

Room 1:
The collector
After studying Law and spending time in Barcelona, Lázaro Galdiano returns to Madrid in 1888 and founded his publishing house, which will be called “Modern Spain”. It will also be at that time when he begins to form his art collection. After his marriage to Argentina’s Paula Florido and Toledo in 1903, a year later construction began on the “Parque Florido” Palace, where he kept his treasures. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), he went to Paris, where he would form a new collection, something he would also do later, in 1940, when he moved to the United States. These two collections will be installed in the palace in 1945, the year he returns to Madrid.

Of all the works and objects that Don José gathered throughout his life, one of the most significant parts is the art gallery, being especially important when studying painting in Spain. Notable was the admiration he always felt for Francisco de Goya, who said that his name “is written with indelible characters in the sky of Art. ” From the painter he acquired not only canvases and drawings, but also some graphic works and five autograph letters, of which two are illustrated. But we will talk more about it when we see Room 13, on the first floor; Meanwhile, here we will be given some strokes of this “union” Lázaro Galdiano – Goya through the exhibition panels.

Another of its facets to know will be that of editor. “Modern Spain” was, in addition to editorial, a magazine of great acceptance between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To it, from 1889 to 1914, other periodic works and more than 600 monographs were added. The editorial line, if we are allowed to call it that, would always be to modernize Spain through a series of publications written and endorsed by prestigious writers of the moment, such as Leopoldo Alas “Clarín”, or Emilia Pardo Bazán, between others.

We will also know his fondness for books. Great bibliophile, acquired a good set of copies, among which some rare, others of beautiful bindings stood out… In short, his passion made him know how to select what was worth keeping and caring for. And not only that, but he himself decided that his library should always remain united and be within reach of the researchers.

Thus, in this room, we will see an example of what was the work as a collector of Lázaro Galdiano, a kind of anticipation of what awaits us throughout the museum.

Four paintings of special relevance: the “Apparition of the Virgin to San Francisco”, by Mateo Cerezo, which shows us the passion of Don José for the painting of the Golden Age, something that we will check in later rooms; a canvas that represents “San Sebastián”, anonymous work that once belonged to the Marquis of Salamanca and that Lazaro managed to recover when he was outside of Spain; “Landscape with smugglers”, painted by Eugenio Lucas Velázquez in 1861, an artist highly valued by the collector and whose son, Eugenio Lucas Villamil, commissioned the paintings of the palace ceilings; and the painting “Archduke Leopoldo Guillermo visiting his collection in Brussels”, by David Teniers, faithful representation of the cabinets of the European collections.

The room is completed with other important objects, such as the “Julio César Cup”, a silver work from the last third of the 16th century that belonged to Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini, who would later be Pope with the name of Clement VIII. This is the first of a set of 12 pieces dedicated to the twelve Caesars, or emperors. The rest is in different collections and museums throughout the world, or whereabouts unknown.

Room 2:
Contribution to the history of Spanish art
In a Spain that at the end of the 19th century had just lost its last colonies, intellectuals take a look at the past to try to recover those models that gave integrity to what was the great empire. For Lázaro Galdiano, he found this in the firm defense of artistic heritage and the regenerationist ideas embodied in some of the works he acquired. An example of this will be the different images of kings, writers and other important figures of Spain, as well as some pieces that represent the civilizations that inhabited the Peninsula. This was his way of claiming the importance of art in the history of our country, including foreign works in order to expand the knowledge of the Spanish.

Thus, in this room we can see several pieces, each representing a different idea. Some stand out for being great works in themselves, while others do so for their historical significance, or for representing relevant characters.

In the center of the room, there are three exhibitors showing a bronze jug belonging to the Tartessian culture, some ivory caves between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, and two of the Spanish-Muslim capitals that the museum owns, these specifically from Toledo and Cordoba.

It should be remembered that the Lázaro Galdiano Foundation participated in the reconstruction of part of the Medina Azahara palace. In the showcase of the wall, there are pieces from different eras: swords, vows Iberians, Roman glasses and bronzes, patenas 6 Visigoths, an Islamic hand brazier… And even the one that is believed to be the key to Moral Castle (Lucena, Córdoba), a prison that was Boabdil’s “el Chico”.

As for the paintings, real pictorial jewels hang from the walls. The oldest is the “Triptych of the Virgin with the Child and musical angels”, a work of the early fifteenth century by Johannes Hispalensis, or Juan de Sevilla, which also stands out for being signed. Next to it is “San Lázaro with his sisters Marta and María”, painted at the beginning of the XVI by Maestro de Perea.

As an example of royal and noble patronage, two tables that were formerly part of an altarpiece, “The Mass of St. Gregory” and “The Catholic Monarchs With St. Helena and St. Barbara”, both attributed to the Master of Manzanillo. Of the Lithuanian painter Michel Sittow, we will see a small painting of the Virgin with the Child, while other of the paintings that we will contemplate are relevant by those who are represented in them: “Góngora”, a replica of the one that Velázquez painted and that is in the Boston Museum; “Lope de Vega”, by Eugenio Cajés; “Carlos III”, by Antón Rafael Mengs; and “Carlos II”, from the circle of Sebastián Herrera Barnuevo.

But without a doubt, three great works will be those that focus our attention not only on the subject, but also on their authors: the “Epiphany” of El Greco; a “San Diego de Alcalá”, by Zurbarán; and a canvas of the “Communion of Santa Teresa”, by Juan Martín Cabezalero, which Lázaro Galdiano recovered in Paris, since it had been sold there by the Marquis of Salamanca.

Room 3:
Beauty as a pretext
Beauty was one of the pillars on which Lazarus was based when acquiring certain works or objects. To show this, the pieces shown here not only stand out for their artistic and historical value, but are also a reflection of the aesthetic vision of the time.

A good example of this is the mosque lamp in the center of the room. Coming from Syria or Egypt, it was made of enameled and gilded glass in the time of the Mamluk Sultan 7Muhammad Ibn Qalawun and is dated between 1294 and 1341, approximately. It is also worth highlighting a high relief known as “Madonna Cernazai”, the work of sculptor and architect Niccolò di Giovanni Florentino from the end of the 15th century and which Lázaro Galdiano acquired at the auction of the Hearst Collection held in 1941 in New York. Of equal interest is the bas-relief of “Christ with the cross in tow”, made in marble at the beginning of the 16th century by an anonymous author.

As for the paintings, the portrait of “Ana de Austria”, by Alonso Sánchez Coello, painted around 1571, is especially relevant. Other portraits are completed, such as “María Luisa Gabriela de Saboya”, made around 1712- 1714 by Miguel Jacinto Meléndez; and two paintings of the Flemish school dated to the end of the 16th century and attributed to Maerten de Vos, oil paintings that represent “Don Martín Hurtado de Arbieto presented by San Martín” and “Doña Catalina, wife of Don Martín Hurtado de Arbieto, presented by Santa Catalina “.

Room 4:
The treasure chamber
A set of valuable pieces is gathered, a real treasure in the eyes of visitors as you can imagine, where they will see a constant glow in the middle of the darkness of the room from the precious stones and noble metals of the almost five hundred objects exhibited here among jewels, silverware and other elements that range from the fourth century BC. until the first half of the XX century.

Upon entering, the room presides over the “Sword of the Count of Tendilla”, which stands in the center of the room; made in 1486 by Giacomo Magnolino in golden silver and enamel, it was a gift from Pope Innocent VIII to Don Íñigo López de Mendoza, II Count of Tendilla, having been acquired by Don José in Munich at the beginning of the 20th century.

There are also several archaeological pieces of gold, among which we can highlight the “Diadem of Ribadeo”, dated between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC, as well as a collection of Hellenistic, Phoenician and Roman earrings, or rings, among others. There is also a sample of the Visigoth period, present here in some fibulas 11and belt plates from the 6th century AD; a Visigothic ring and two Byzantines are equally important, one of them having an emerald with the saints Peter and Paul engraved. Eastern Europe is represented by a series of medieval jewels, such as the “Gold Plate with Enamel”, acquired in New York by Lázaro Galdiano along with other pieces of the Botkin Prince collection. Complete the set some religious objects between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.

In the showcases, another section is called “Gold and silver for the temple”, which includes a set of silver from the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for the Spanish religious liturgy, such as the “Chalice with the shield of the Great Captain ” (Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba).

“The rock crystal” and the “Colored gems” are other sections of the exhibitors, in which we can contemplate a group of pieces that some have wanted to compare with the so-called “Treasure of the Dolphin” exhibited in the Prado Museum and whose covers can be seen in the National Museum of Decorative Arts.

The crystals are arranged in the form of the old “Wunderkammern”, or cameras of wonders, being able to admire also beautiful jewels carved from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries; there are also examples of historicist teachers, like some glasses and reliquaries, which reproduce almost perfectly some specimens inspired by old models. Between the set of hard stones, glasses, rosaries, luxury cutlery, boxes, toilets, etc. are exposed. As for the “Civil Silver” section, it depicts the image that dressers could have in the past, with fountains, cutlery, glasses, etc.

The personal jewels of Doña Paula Florido, wife of Lázaro Galdiano, made at the beginning of the 20th century and that, despite not being an acquisition as a collection, could not be missing in this space.

Room 5:
European art brought to Spain
A selected selection of the various European art collections that Don José Lázaro Galdiano was able to acquire and gather in the different countries of Europe where he was, as well as in the United States. It is composed of different objects, such as small bronzes for ornamental purposes of the 17th and 18th centuries; jewelry from France and Italy; enamels of Limoges (France) of the XVI and XVII of Pierre Reymond and of the Penicaud, Limousin and Noylier families; civil objects made of silver in Holland and Germany; and some examples of Dutch, German, Flemish and English painting. Let us not forget what we have already mentioned above that Lázaro Galdiano was convinced that introducing foreign works in Spain could increase the cultural level of the country.

From the Flemish school, we have a triptych of the “Descent”, work of the Master of the Santa Segre, while the German is represented by the “Crucifixion with saints”, of the Master of the Painted Nimbos, work of the end of the 15th century colorist and Bright, typical of the Gothic. Also from this period is a stained glass window of Italian origin made by Antonio da Pandino in which the figure of “San Miguel weighing souls” appears. For its part, the English school is the portrait of “Lady Sondes”, the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The pictorial section of this room is completed by the “Still Life with Fruits and Oysters”, by the Dutch artist Jacob van Walscapelle, and the “, also called “Allegory of the Arts”, by flamenco Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert.

Before we leave, we will stop at the “Christ tied to the column” that we will see standing at the back of the room, a wonderful work done in marble by Michelangelo Naccherino for the altarpiece of the Church of the Trinity of Naples, where he was paired with a image of the Virgin who, at present, is in the Selgas de Cudillero Foundation (Asturias). Given to King Felipe III by Don Pedro Fernández de Castro, Count of Lemos, it would later be donated by the monarch to the disappeared Convent of Trinitarians of Madrid.

This one was confiscated and, later, demolished, moment in which the Christ happened to be several days in the sidewalk of the Atocha Street. Thus, it would reach the art market in Paris, where it was seen by the Count of the Battlements, although it would be acquired later by Lázaro Galdiano. Like this work, Naccherino would perform another on the same subject for Cosimo II de Medicis.

Room 6:
Bibliographic Jewels
A tour to the interest of Lázaro Galdiano for books and how this led him to create a wonderful library with copies, manuscripts, artistic bindings and other forms of great interest. However, for conservation reasons they cannot remain permanently exposed. Thus, this room is intended to show these funds temporarily in order to make them known to visitors, changing the theme of the exhibition from time to time.

Lázaro Galdiano Museum
The Lázaro Galdiano Museum, in Madrid (Spain), is a state museum of private origin, which houses a wide and heterogeneous collection, formed with encyclopedic interest towards all arts and techniques. This exceptional set, consisting of more than 12,600 pieces, was gathered by the collector and editor José Lázaro Galdiano, who when he died in 1947 bequeathed it to the Spanish State together with his Madrid residence, the headquarters of his publishing house Modern Spain and a library of 20,000 volumes

On display at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum is a large part of the private collection of José Lázaro Galdiano bequeathed to the Spanish State. The Lázaro Galdiano Foundation was established by the government in 1948. As well as administering directing the museum itself, the Foundation manages an important library, an archive, a study room containing prints and drawings and also edits the prestigious arts magazine “Goya”.

The art collection includes an excellent picture gallery, which is essential to the history of Spanish art and within which the work of Francisco de Goya stands out. Important European paintings are also included and are complemented by sculptures and decorative arts, dating from the 6th century BC up to the first half of the 20th century.

The conceptual display on the ground floor offers the key to understanding the collection, its origins and its importance in the history of art, and what is more, to take an aesthetic stroll amongst its most attractive pieces. The first floor is dedicated to Spanish art, the second floor to the European schools. On the third floor, a study gallery has been set up, holding the majority of the pieces from the collection, consisting of some thirteen thousand objects.