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History of the Museum and its founder

Upon his death, Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa (1845-1922), 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, aristocrat, active member of the Carlist party, collector and archaeologist, bequeathed his palace and collections - today the Cerralbo Museum- to the Spanish State.

The Marquis of Cerralbo with his work Pages from the Native Lands History, 1911-1922. Inv. No. 06184 The Palace was designed from the beginning to serve a dual purpose as a home and a museum, housing the many works of art accumulated by the Marquis and Marquess of Cerralbo and their children, the Marquis and Marquess of Villa-Huerta, during the numerous trips they made all over Spain and Europe.

The Marquis of Cerralbo donated this estate to the Spanish state, thereby instituting the Cerralbo Museum so that his collections would endure "always together and be used by science and art enthusiasts for study". The State accepted the testamentary legacy through Royal Orders of 10 April and 24 September 1924.

It is currently a state-owned museum directly managed by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, under the Director General of Fine Arts and Cultural Assets. It comprises 37 rooms distributed between the entrance vestibule, the main staircase, the mezzanine and main floors and the garden.

Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, descended from aristocratic lineage, the origins of which date back to the 8th century and is related by marriage to the House of Alba, the House of Osuna and of Medinaceli.

The son of Francisco de Aguilera y Becerril, Earl of Villalobos, and of María Luisa de Gamboa y López de León, the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo was born in Madrid on 8th July 1845, the seventh of thirteen children. As a child, he studied at the prestigious religious school Escuelas Pías de San Fernando and received an education based on faith and tradition.

At the age of 24, he joined the Carlist party and three years later, he was elected a member of the Spanish parliament for Ledesma (Salamanca). Already in his adolescence, he showed great sensitivity towards the Fine Arts and a natural talent for drawing, poetry and painting.

Earl of Villalobos upon the death of his father, from his grandfather he inherited the titles of Marquis of Cerralbo, Almarza and Campo Fuerte, Earl of Alcudia, Foncalada and the Sacred Roman Empire and twice a Grandee of Spain. He transferred the remaining titles to his brothers. He also inherited from his grandfather, José Aguilera y Contreras, the villa of Cerralbo and the palace of San Boal in Salamanca as well as a series of estates in Aranda de Duero and in the legal districts of Ciudad Rodrigo, Vitigudino and Alba de Tormes. Some time later his assets increased with the palaces in Madrid, Santa María de Huerta in Soria and Monroy in Cáceres.

He studied philosophy and letters and law at the Central University of Madrid where he began manifesting his interest in literature and collectionism.

Marqués de Cerralbo
Marquesa de Villa-Huerta

El fundador

Don Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa (óleo) [Nueva ventana] , nació en Madrid en 1845, destacó como político, historiador y pionero de la arqueología en España. Heredero de un rancio abolengo fue XVII marqués de Cerralbo, título que se remonta al siglo XVI, cuando Carlos I otorga a Rodrigo Pacheco , octavo señor de Cerralbo, el marquesado por los servicios prestados en las campañas alemanas.

Fiel a la causa carlista fue el representante en España de don Carlos de Borbón. A los 64 años, desengañado de la política, centró sus esfuerzos y recursos económicos en más de un centenar de campañas de excavación arqueológica a lo largo de la cuenca del Jalón. Sus investigaciones se hallan recogidas en “ Páginas de la Historia Patria por mis excavaciones arqueológicas”, premio Martorell de 1911.

La pasión coleccionista, compartida con su mujer e hijos, podemos rastrearla desde su juventud en el mundo de la numismática. Años más tarde, el entronque matrimonial con doña Inocencia, la herencia de su abuelo y una discreta actividad bursátil, le posibilitan dedicarse a acopiar un variado e importante patrimonio artístico que adquiere en subastas, anticuarios y exposiciones.

Al final de sus días y sin herederos directos la preocupación de que sus colecciones reunidas con tanto esfuerzo e ilusión fueran disgregadas, le lleva a establecer un legado testamentario a favor del Estado que se hace efectivo en agosto de 1922. En su proyecto contó con el apoyo de doña Amelia, quién también legó en 1927 las obras de arte y artes decorativas de su propiedad para que formasen parte del Museo Cerralbo. Gracias a estas iniciativas el patrimonio público español cuenta con el testimonio de un estilo de vida y una explicita muestra del gusto decorativo de una época que de otra forma se hubieran perdido.

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