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Museum of Romanticism

The Building

Mudeum of Romanticism-antechamberThe Museum of Romanticism , before Romantic Museum , is located at calle San Mateo, 13 , close to Tribunal underground station.

The building, a palace , built in 1776 was designed in neoclasic style by the architect Manuel Rodriguez . The rooms are all surrounding three interior patios.

During the first years of the XIXth century the palace was bought by the count de la Puebla Maestre , who renewed the main façade including more ornaments and his coat of arms.

In 1921 the official tourism bureau was installed here and in 1924 the Romantic Museum.

The building has been restored several times, the last restoration started in 2001 and just finished in 2009, when the museum was reopened.


Benigno de la Vega-Inclan y Flaquer, Marquis de la Vega-Inclan (1858-1942)

Museum of Romanticism-anteroomBenigno de la Vega-Inclan was born in Valladolid. He was a senator and also member of the Parliament during the reign of King Alfonso XIII .
The official tourism bureau had been created by King Alfonso XIII in 1911 and it was Benigno de la Vega-Inclan who installed the offices in this palace.

This organism became later, in 1928, the ' Patronato Nacional del Turismo '. Vega-Inclan was in charge of it. He tried to increase the value and spread the Spanish cultural heritage. He can be considered as promotor of ‘cultural. He created a series of hotels in ancient buildings, what we know now as ‘Paradores'.

His legacy includes Cervantes' house in Valladolid , the Greco's museum in Toledo , the restoration of the Alhambra and the Generalife in Granada , the Real Alcazar and the Barrio de Santa Cruz in Seville.

One of his greatest undertakings was the creation of the Romantic Museum. This historical period had not risen much attention until then. When the museum opened, in 1924, it included the personal legacy of Vega-Inclan : paintings, furniture, decorative items, etc. It also included donations, for example by Juan Ramon Jimenez or deposits by the Prado Museum.
After the Civil War, many objects were also taken to the museum.

The museum was immediately widely appreciated by intellectuals. During the Civil War, Rafael Alberti was its director.

Vega-Inclan was an important character of Madrilian life in the XIXth century. He was an architect, restorer, founder of cultural institutions and museum and, at the same time, a polititian. He was a personal friend of Alfonso XIII and other members of the Royal family.


Romanticism Museum of Romanticism-ballroom

Romanticism had its origin in Germany and Great Britain at the end of the XVIIIth century. It was a reaction against Rationalism, Enlightment and Classicism. It gives more importance to feelings. In Spain , its influence grew specially during the reign of queen Isabel II . It began when the liberal exiles returned to the country from France during the reign of Fernando VII. There they had come into contact with this movement. One of the most important characters of Spanish Romanticism is the author Mariano José de Larra . A room has been dedicated to him in the museum.


The Museum

Museum of Romanticism-piano by PleyelThe visit to the museum implies a trip to the past. We have the opportunity to imagine how daily life was in the XIXth century. Of course, in this case, the life of noblemen and the new bourgeoise. In every room they have recreated corresponding atmosphere, always trying to impress the visitor, showing off the owner´s wealth. To be welcome one had to be among the ‘chosen' ones who could access the luxury hidden behind the walls. A home was not only where people lived, but also a showroom to display the owners' good taste, their economic power which allowed them to buy works of art and different items which had to be seen.


Stairs and Hall

The visit starts at the staircase which leads to the main rooms. From it one could see the orchestra playing when balls were celebrated at the palace.

It is during this time when bourgoise society believed that everybody who was supposed to be somebody had to be portraited. In this case, we can see two portraits by A.M. Cortellini as an example of these kind of portraits.

From the staircase we get to the hall, the first real room of the inhabited area where the visitor is welcome. In this case the decoration has been dedicated to the childhood of queen Isabel II with a series of portraits of her as a child, of her father, king Fernando VII and a small sculpture of the queen with her daughter, the princess of Asturias , known as la Chata. It was made by Victor Bernard in 1852.


Antechamber and anteroom

Museum of Romanticism-ballroom with harpThis room was a sort of ‘appetizer' preparing the visitor for what he was going to see in the building. On the ceiling there is a painting which belonged to the ‘Queen´s Casino', a little palace presented to Isabel de Braganza by the city of Madrid . It seems her husband, Fernando VII, spent more time in the palace than her, specially with his mistresses.

This room is dedicated to Isabel II as queen. Here we can see a painting by Louis Etienne Charles Porion of 1867 showing the queen and her husband, Francisco de Asís y Borbon , supervising a military parade.

From the antechamber we access the most important and also public part of the house. In this case there are two halls and a ballroom. Each room gives way to the next.

The antechamber is one of the nicest rooms of the palace. On the ceiling is a painting (also from the ‘Queen's Casino') dedicated to night. The furniture is of ‘fernandino' style, the Spanish version of French Empire style , which got to Spain after the War of Independence.

The wodden piano was made by Boisselot et Fils in 1845. The room is dedicated to the background of Spanish Romanticism with items and pictures related to the War of Independence and Fernando VII.

 

Ballroom


This is the biggest room of the palace and we can easily image the guests prepared for the dance, women wearing long dresses and fanning themselves while flirting with young men that are trying to find the most suitable lady. This room was only dedicated to social activities and had to state the owner´s social position in a clear and ostentatious way.

Museum of Romanticism-antechamberThe harp was made by Sebastian Erard and the piano by Pleyel, about 1840, for queen Isabel II .


Antechamber

This is a small room dedicated to more intimate and informal meetings. The chairs belonged to Juan Ramon Jimenez . They were called 'flying chairs' as they usually were just in front of the wall and could be taken wherever the visitor wanted to sit.

 

Traditional Andalusian and Madrilian Artists

Next two rooms are dedicated to Andalusian traditional artists. This is a more private part of the palace, which was restricted to intimate friends. These rooms belonged to a certain member of the family and had a specific use. The decoration was simpler, as they did not need to show-off with these kind of guests.These rooms are dedicated to paitings and objects related with Andalusia . Most of them full of topics, like people playing cards in taverns, bandoleros and women wearing typical flamenco dresses. These images reflect an ideal world, but not the real world of those days.

The small room dedicated to Madrilian artists shows more realistic paintings, sometimes even cruel ones. These painters were not very well considered as their paintings sometimes seemed more like sketches and they gave more importance to imagination.


Little Room Museum of Romanticism-little hall

This room was like a living-room for the family, with big windows from which we can see a beautiful interior patio.

Heavy draperies protect the furniture from light. Here we can see a series of fans and paintings showing typical activities, like a morning in church attending mass by Francisco Cabral y Aguado Bejarano from 1863.


Breakfastroom

This room is being used to show several objects related to the personal clenliness. There is an ‘armchair-toilet' which belonged to Fernando VII with a hole in the center.

In those days people did not have the items we have today, although they probably did not miss them, as cleanliness was a second rate problem.


Diningroom


Museum of Romanticism-toiletThis was a meeting place for the family, as they usually had dinner together. In this case we can see a dining-table prepared for lunch witch Parisian china.

On the sideboard are a series of items necessary to serve lunch. The beautiful lamp was made at la Granja .

It a nice and cosy place and it is easy to imagine the family sitting around the table and enjoying their time together.


Oratory


Before the oratory we have a little room which also presents part of the religious paintings included in the collection.

Museum of Romanticism-San Gregorio Magno by GoyaIn the oratory is a painting by Goya , San Gregorio Magno, and a portrait of queen Mariana de Austria by Juan Carreño de Miranda from 1675.

These paintings belonged to Marques de la Vega-Inclan .

It seems that the oratory is the original one of the palace. In this room religious and social acts were celebrated.

 

Children's playroom

This is a big room full of light. There a two doll houses with many small details. Also several dolls which, probably thanks to several movies, make us feel quite uncomfortable. They are not the kind of doll one would give to one´s kids today.

Several games show us what kids used to play with, like puzzles or cardgames. The paintings in this room are dedicated to children´s portraits.


Boudoir and woman's bedroom


The next two rooms belong to the housewife. She is the real ‘housekeeper', always Museum of Romanticism-bedroomfocused on ‘typical women-duties' and maybe, sometimes, also some love-affair, just to fill her leisure time. We have to take into account that the inhabitants of the palace had domestic service, ten people for each, so that the housewife must have had a lot of free time. As women were educated to be pretty and just look after the house, those belonging to the upper classes dedicated most of their time just to be pretty.

There is a nice sewing table of 1845 and several items that want to reflect what would have been a room like that, full of useless objects that were only precious for the housewife.

Finally we reach the bedroom. It is the most intimate space for the housewife, where she is alone with her secrets. Here she would sit in front of a mirror, combing her hair. Everything in this room is dedicated to women, specially the portraits which show her as wife and mother.


Larra´s Study and the Room of Literature and Theater

With this room we enter into the ‘masculine' part of the palace. This first room has been Museum of Romanticism-Smoking Roomdedicated to honour the memory of Spanish writer Larra, who is the most representative character of Romanticism in Spain .

There are several objects which belonged to him, as well as a portrait of the author painted by Jose Gutierrez de la Vega y Bocanegra in 1835. There is also a portrait of a woman who seems to be Dolores de Armijo, Larra´s lover.


Smoking Room and Study


These are realy manly rooms. Specially the Smoking Room is restricted to men. Here he found a shelter where he could be alone or with his friends, far away from women and were they could talk and discuss without restrictions. The decoration is full of oriental symbols, as was in fashion in those days, because of its exotic and sensual meaning.

Museum of Romanticism-bedroom2The Study was the room where the owner received his guests. It had to be sober, but also creating an atmosphere that favoured secrets and the opportunity to listen to interesting stories.


Bedroom and Office


Completely different than the housewife´s bedroom, this one is sober, with few furniture and with just the necesary amenities for personal cleanliness and no decorations.

We can imagine the gentlman adjusting his tie while he looks at his smart figure reflected in the mirror. He is ready to start his daily routine and read the newspaper.


The office is serious room destined for work. It is the owner´s private place, where he finds the necessary loneliness to dedicate his entire energy to his work, whatever that might have been.


Billardroom

Another room only for men. It seems that, after having lunch, they liked to play billard inMuseum of Romanticism-Billard Room order to digest food. It was a place to drink a good brandy and smoke a cigar while watching the beautiful young ladies whose portraits were hanging on the wall. Billard was a game of aristocracy.


Stove or Greenhouse


The stove or greenhouse was a room that was in fashion in those days, a time when people were very fond of nature and, specially, of exotic plants.

In this room we can see different dinner services and oriental china.

The visit to the museum ends in a room dedicated to study the museum with leaflets, books and interactive pc-programs. There is also a scale model of the museum and in some of its rooms there are holograms presenting daily life in the palace.


Once the Museum of Romanticism has been recovered, after so many years, it is almost compulsory to visit it. It does not close at lunchtime, so there is no excuse for not going. We recommend the visit not only to Madrilians, but also to tourists, as it is a unique experience.

 

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