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Private art collection of Enrique de Aguilera
Laid out in a sumptuous late 19th-century mansion in Arguelles, Museo Cerralbo is the incredible private collection of artworks and artefacts assembled by Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, the 17th Marqués de Cerralbo.
A man of letters, reactionary politician and traveller who fanatically collected pieces everywhere he went, he bequeathed his collection to the state with the stipulation that it should be displayed exactly how he had arranged it himself.
Thus the contents are laid out in a crowded manner, with paintings in three levels up the walls, and few items labelled. Among the many paintings, though, there are El Greco’s The Ecstasy of St Francis of Assisi – the real highlight – and works by Zurbarán, Alonso Cano and other Spanish masters. The upstairs area contains an astonishing collection of European and Japanese armour, weapons, watches, pipes, leather-bound books, clocks and other curiosities.
The mansion itself is of interest; virtually intact, it gives a good idea of how the aristocracy lived in the Restoration period – look out especially for the lavish ballroom