Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid, Spain anytime in the near future, you should strongly consider adding the Museo Lázaro Galdiano (Museum of Lázaro Galdiano) to your list of must-see attractions to visit.  This museum boasts an astonishing collection of Spanish pieces, painted by names such as Goya, Velazquez, Hieronymus, Bosch and El Greco, as well as a massive assemblage of art from other European schools, allowing tourists to take a journey through the history of European art that spans several centuries.

The History of the Museo Lázaro Galdiano

 Following his death in 1947, the art assets of José Lázaro Galdiano were bequeathed to the State with the assurance that they would continue to be on display for the public, which they have been ever since.

The artist, José Lázaro Galdiano, was born in Navarra in 1862.  He studied law and was later employed as an art critic and journalist for La Vanguardia, a Spanish publication based in Barcelona.  In 1888 he moved to Madrid, where he founded his own publishing company and began collecting art.  In 1903, Galdiano married Argentine-born Paula Florido, a woman who shared his love of art collecting, and a year later he commenced construction on the Palacio Florido in Calle Serrano, which initially served as the family’s residence and was later transformed into an exhibition space in which to display his collections—a space still used today for the Museo Lázaro Galdiano.

Following Florido’s death in 1932 and just prior to the Spanish Civil War, Galdiano began traveling, first to Paris and then New York, amassing one of the most impressive private collections in Spain and the world.

Museo Lázaro Galdiano:  Collection

Tourists visiting the Museo Lázaro Galdiano enter the building on the bottom floor, which once housed the kitchens, boiler rooms and garages.  This area of the museum allows visitors to gain some insight into the life of Lázaro Galdiano, whose aim it was to build up a collection that would serve as a reference point for valuing Spanish art and history.  He also wanted to show comparisons between the art of Spain and that of foreign lands, which is why he was so eager to buy art of the finest quality from around the world.

Although the history of art was of great interest to Lázaro Galdiano, he also found great beauty in the objects themselves.  This is reflected in one of the museum’s most central rooms, which holds a collection of diverse pieces such as the Sword of Conde de Tendilla (1486) by Giacomo Magnolino and the portrait of Doña Ana de Austria, painted by Alonso Sánchez Coello in around 1571.

The collection can essentially be broken down into four general categories:  15th and 16th century Spanish Art; Spanish Art from the Golden Age; Goya and 19th century Spanish Art and European Art.  Spanish pieces make up the majority of the collection and are housed on the museum’s more spacious first floor.  Some of the most prized of these Spanish pieces include:

  • Virgen de mosén Esperandeu, by Blasco de Grañén (15th century)
  •  Triptico del Nacimiento, by the Master of Avila (15th century)
  • Santo Domingo, by Blasco de Grañén (16th century)
  • Transfer of the Body of the Apostle Santiago, by the Master of Astorga (16th century)
  • La Tienda (The Antique Store), by Luis Baret (17th century)
  • Virgen del Pilar, by Ramón Bayeu. (18th century)
  • La Magdalena Penitente (Magdalene in Penitence), by Goya (19th century)
  • El Aquelarre (The Witches’ Sabbath), by Goya (19th century)

The European art represented in the collection is housed on the second floor and, like the Spanish collection, it spans several eras and reflects many different artistic schools.  Important works contained on this level of the museum include pieces by artists such as Tiepolo, Magnasco, Ferrari and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, a talented pupil of Leonardo da Vinci whose El Salvador Adolescente (The Adolescent Saviour) in the collection was long thought to be the work of da Vinci himself.