Museo Cerralbo is Madrid’s Best Kept Secret So for God’s Sake Don’t Tell Anyone.
Don’t tell anyone. I mean it. Just don’t. Because if you do, then the Museo Cerralbo in Madrid will be packed with people. You wouldn’t guess from their rather ho-hum website, but this delightful little bombonita of a Madrilenian museum should be on the very top of your to-do list if you’re planning a trip to the Spanish capital.
The Museo Cerralbo is the former home of Mr. Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, who did not only have a very fancy name but was also undoubtedly Europe’s best shopper back in the 19th century. You see, thoughout his life, this 17th Marquis of Cerralbo travelled around Europe with his family and bought a whopping 50,000 pieces of EVERYTHANG to fill his mansion just around the corner of the Spanish Royal Palace. Paintings, sculptures, ceramic pieces, glass, tapestries, furniture, coins, medals, drawings, engravings, clocks, arms, armour and archaeological objects – they’re all still there for you to drool over right here in the 21st century. Let’s take a look at the photos I took when I was there last week, shall we?
The Museo Cerralbo
First things first: I forgot to bring my ‘real’ camera, so forgive me if my photos don’t look as good as they normally do. I did bring my iPhone though…so here we are! This is the central staircase of the Museo Cerralbo. Not bad, right?
I just HAD to walk up and take a look at this whopper of a 19th century vase before I started my tour on the ground floor. I looked it up on the Museo Cerralbo image gallery just now, ran the text through Google Translate and found out that it’s neo-Renaissance. Which is good, because I came here to learn sh*t.
Back to the first floor though…where things were off to a modest start in the Red Room – I wonder why they called it that. Anyway, the Red Room was mostly used as an office and a little reception area for delivery guys, the mail man…you know, service people!
The fun didn’t start until I went up one floor. This prayer room contains a painting by Anton Van Dyck, which he painted around 1621. Could have been 1622 as well, I thought. Didn’t recognize the mother and child in the painting, though (just kidding).
And then this ship-shaped Murano chandelier barged into my life. Oh people, it was so beautiful. I studied it for minutes, going over every detail, before realizing I was holding everybody up. Sorry!
Has there ever been anything more beautiful? I don’t think so!
They sure don’t make ’em like they used to! I’m not an antiques expert, but I do think I can go out on a limb that this mirror is Meissen porcelain.
Meissen mirror, Murano chandelier, gobsmacked bald guy.
Dear diary, today I learned that this type of mirror is called a psyche mirror because it is supported by two small columns that allow it to rotate. This particular mirror at the Museo Cerralbo is made out of Meissen porcelain (well, duh) but what I found even more impressive, is that because of the way it’s designed, the mirror almost seems to float between the columns. Very nice and now I want it.
This arresting shade of pink is very similar to Little Greene’s Leather – you should check it out!
Lots of brown antiques in this photo and let’s be honest, it can get a bit much. Thanks to the pink walls, however, everything looks nice and fresh.
Well, well, well, what have we here? More Meissen than you can shake a stick at – although shaking a stick anywhere near these priceless porcelain pieces probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
Time to move on to the next room, where things were a bit more subtle – although I definitely wouldn’t mind having these two Louis chairs at home – although I have to admit I still don’t know which Louis they are ahem. XV perhaps?
Check out the little lace mini skirt on the chandelier hanging over the dining room table – it’s cute, right? The Louis XVI inspired fireplace frame doesn’t look too shabby either.
Lots of things to love in this room, especially that daring lilac color on the wall. Who said the 19th century was boring? My favorite item in this room though is the fabulous room divider in the back.
We haven’t talked about the magnificent tile floor in the Museo Cerralbo yet – will you just look at how timeless it is?
The Museo Cerralbo can definitely be a bit cluttered in some rooms – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
As much as I like antiques, I’ve never been into knights and weaponry. The Museo Cerralbo had an entire hallway filled with the stuff that I had to cross in order to get to the Arab Room.
Frankly, I could have lived without all the knives on the wall, but other than that the Arab Room at the Museo Cerralbo was sheer perfection – still very now.
This lantern is to die for. Really. It also made me think of the time I stayed at the Riad Malika in Marrakech. Good times!
Here it is again, this time from another angle.
So, not even three sentences after I said I’m not into knights, I’m going to contradict myself and say that I think this Samurai suit of armour looks amazing. It dates from the end of the Edo Period (which ran from 1614 tot 1868 as we all know), when suits like this one were made more for artistic reasons than for actual samurai-ing. Which is much better I think, because I’m a lover not a fighter.
This, people, is the Cerralbo’s sun room. And I can hear you already, who needs a frigging sun room in Spain? Well, no one really. And so even though sun rooms were really fashionable in 19th century Europe, this one was converted to into, well…what exactly? I know what, a knick-knack room!
No one in his right mind would be comfortable sitting squeezed between a priceless credenza on one side and a priceless Chinese planter on the other, but hey – who cares? It looks pretty!
Well, what did I tell you? This room is Knick-knack Central!
Knick-knacks up close and personal.
If you look closely, you can see a bunch of antique keys in the bottom of this photo. Did you know that people actually collect keys like these? I certainly didn’t until I started working for Catawiki.
Now, this is an interesting piece I think. It’s a bust and a pair of hands of an apostle that were dressed in a cloth tunic during processions in 18th century Spain.
Did you know that the concept of a separate bathroom basically didn’t exist until the 19th century? It was considered a huge luxury at the time to have a room dedicated to washing yourself. And looking at the insanely beautiful marble bathtub, I totally understand why.
By the time I arrived in this room, my head was basically full. So funny how people in the 19th century used to put all their armchairs and sofas all the way against the wall, don’t you think? This room was actually the fumoir, the place where gentlemen could sit down for a smoke and talk politics. In the center of the room you see a table with a collection of columns, which is why this room is called the Small Columns Room.
If the men had their own room, then surely the women deserved their own, right? The answer to that question is right here! The Empire Sitting Room features a Venetian glass mirror that was so nice I had to zoom in and take a separate photo of it.
GOALS. I’d love to own a mirror like this one. It’s all frilly and sh*t and I really can’t stop looking at it.
You couldn’t really access the other part of the Empire Sitting Room, which was a pity because it looked really cool.
This banquet room certainly had enough things in it to talk about over dinner. It’s a bit too brown for my taste, but there you have it. Can’t have everything in life!
I’m sure the late Joan Rivers would have felt right at home in the Chamfered Corner Room. I mean, just look at her former penthouse.
What’s with the giant bell in the middle? Well, apparently it’s purely decorative. It’s a Chinese Qing Dynasty bronze bell with cloissoné enamelling representing autumn, winter and spring. And yes, summer is missing for some reason.
This wallpaper in the Chamfered Comfort Room is so vibrant and happy!
Another Murano chandelier hanging around the Museo Cerralbo.
The Chinese tourists you see in the background were having the day of their lives. I can so imagine that the Cerralbo was everything they had in mind when they booked their trip to Europe.
Let’s hope I’ll ‘urn’ enough money one day to afford these two Meissen urns!
One of the three galleries at the Cerralbo. The two vases you see on the left were made in Chinese Imari style.
Step into my office! Mr. Marquis went a little overboard with the red draperies, but I dig it.
The ceiling isn’t exactly subtle either but you have to admit it’s stunning.
Time to boogie in this jaw-dropping ballroom.
My feet are tired, but my soul is rested. If you decide to go and visit the Museo Cerralbo yourself, please tell them I said ¡hola!