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Marquis of Cerralbo


Marquis and archaeologist

The marquise of Cerralbo, Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa , was the owner and founder of

Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, XVII marquis of Cerralbo, 1871

copyright: Museo Cerralbo

what is now the Cerralbo Museum. He was the XVIIth marquis of Cerralbo.
He was born in Madrid in 1845, the 7th son of a family of 13 children. From his father he inherited the title of Count of Villalobos and from his grandfather the titles of Marquis of Cerralbo, Almarza and Campo Fuerte, Count of de Alcudia, Foncalada and Sacro Romano Imperio. He was twice “Grande de España” (which is a title that goes directly after prince and is granted by the kind). Thanks to all his titles he became senator in 1875.
He studied at the Escuelas Pias de San Fernando and afterwards Law and Philosophy at the University in Madrid.
While being at university he founded a society with some friends that organized meetings related to art and literature. It was called La Alborada (Dawn). He wrote poems and romantic novels.

He also liked painting and gardening.

Since 1908 he was a member of the Royal Academy of History. His main interest was archaeology. He took part and defrayed the costs of several excavations mainly in the area of the Jalon river. He was a predecessor of scientific archaeology.
Regarding his scientific interests he was a modern man, while on the other hand, he was very conservative regarding his political ideas.


Marquis and member of the Carlism Party

He became a member of the Carlism Party when he was 24 years old. He supported Carlos

Maria Manuela Inocencia Serrano y Cerver, marquise of Cerralbo

copyright: Museo Cerralbo

of Borbon in his desire to become king of Spain.
He was deputy for Salamanca in 1872 and in 1884 senator and representative of Carlos of Borbon. The Marquis of Cerralbo was given important rewards by him in recognition for his services.
Nevertheless, he became disillusioned with politics and retired in 1899 dedicating his time to agriculture and horse-breading.
Afterwards he returned to politics supporting Jaime of Borbón and Borbón-Palma in 1913, but he retired once and for all in 1919.

Family Life

When he was 26 years old he married Maria Manuela Inocencia Serrano Cerver. She had been married to Antonio Maria del Valle Angelin, military man and polititian. She had become a widow five years before. Maria Manuela had a daughter and a son from her previous marriage, Antonio and Amelia. Maria Manuela was 29 years older than her new husband. In fact, her children were the same age as her husband. Antonio, who was only one year younger than his stepfather was a friend of his even before the marquis married his mother. A curious relationship.


During the first years of their marriage they live at Pizarro street. Then the stepchildren bought a plot of land in the noble area of Argüelles. There the Cerralbo palace would be built. Another important neighbour of the area was princess Isabel, la “Chata”, sister of King Alfonso XII.

The marquise owned other great buildings in San Boal, Salamanca, plantations in Aranda de Duero, Ciudad Rodrigo, Vitigudino and Alba de Tormes, Santa María de la Huerta and Monroy.

The Palace

Its construction started in 1883 and finished in 1893. The marquis was totally involved in

Dance at the Cerralbo Palace, around 1902

copyright: Museo Cerralbo

the project preparing many sketches of the different floors of the palace.
The mezzanine was dedicated to the private rooms and changed in relation to the family members.
The building was made in a classic Italian style.

The exterior shows the sober noble style of the high classes. But the interior is eclectic, i.e. it shows a mixture of styles. It is organized around an interior yard surrounded by a corridor.
It seems that from the very beginning the idea of the Marquis was to create different areas dedicated to his collections. As he had no descendents, nor had his stepchildren, he thought the best way to preserve his patrimony was to donate it to the Spanish State. Also his stepdaughter, Amelia, left her own patrimony and it became part of the collection we can see nowadays.

The Marquis dedicated his time and the palace to many artistic activities like exhibitions, concerts, recitals, etc. He wanted these activities to continue after his death.


His Collections

Marquis of Cerralbo

copyright: Museo Cerralbo


The Marquis of Cerralbo also donated all the items he had found during his excavations to the Natural Science Museum and the Archaeological Museum.
It seems that he started collecting coins when he was a child. Afterwards he started collecting weapons, some of them related to his ancestors. It was a way of showing his noble descent.
He also had an important collection of photographies, not only portraits but all those that were made during his many trips abroad.
The collections are composed by approximately 50.000 pieces, paintings, vases, coins, lamps, swords, etc. What makes the Cerralbo Museum so special is that all rooms have been set up as they were in the times of the Marquis. All this thanks to the detailed inventory that showed exactly where each item was located.
The Marquis was a passionate collector. He travelled to many countries where he bought all the works of art he could. He also bought many at auctions.
The Marquis died in 1922. His wife had died in 1896. Antonio del Valle died in 1900 and Amelia del Valle in 1927.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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