museum review - The Museum of Romanticism
Written by Oryx
Look back longingly at the rich and diverse collection at the Museum of Romanticism in Madrid, a museum-mansion devoted to the art, history, and daily life of the Spanish Romantic movement.
The Museum of Romanticism, housed in a neoclassical mansion built in 1776, is devoted to the cultural and political movement that reached its peak in the early 19th century and represented a new vision of the world.
Visitors can step back in time to learn about the Romantic period – which in Spain coincided with the reign of Isabel II (1833-1868) – and also about aspects of the society through details of everyday life: tastes, decorative trends, fashion, beliefs, social hierarchies, recreation, and technology.
The exhibition offers an insight into the period by means of two basic tours: one focusing on historical and political issues as well as art; the other examining the atmosphere of the period, exemplified by the décor and objects of daily life.
Through the tour of the Museum's rooms, visitors can learn about the lifestyle of a bourgeois family during the reign of Isabel II, and also understand what the Romantic movement was about. Taking a walk through the Ballroom, the Dining room, the Boudoir, the Oratory, or the Children’s room, among others, introduces visitors to a very complex society through scenes of everyday life. The route also shows other important issues of the Romantic period, such as religion, literature, theatre, music, childhood, and more.
The Museum, originally opened in 1924, was created initially from the personal collection that the founder Benigno de la Vega-Inclán built up through his lifetime, and which contained not only paintings but also items of furniture and decorative arts. Since then, the initial collection has been enriched with subsequent purchases, legacies, and donations by leading personalities of the day, such as the two paintings by Alenzo furnished by the Marquis de Cerralbo, and objects that had belonged to the great writers of the Romantic age, Mariano José de Larra, José de Zorrilla, and the later Juan Ramón Jiménez.
This collection was housed from the outset in the building where it remains today, at number 13, calle San Mateo, in Madrid, in a building erected in 1776 under the direction of the architect Manuel Rodríguez. The collection now includes many works of different artistic disciplines, such as paintings, miniatures, picture cards, drawings, furniture, and decorative arts.
The Museum also organises a wide range of activities: classical and pop music concerts, workshops, and courses, in its aim of offering a dynamic place to learn about the past.
The Museum of Romanticism is located in a mansion built at the end of the 18th century by the architect Manuel Rodríguez for the Marquis of Matallana. It includes two courtyards and a garden – ‘Jardín del Magnolio’ – a romantic garden featuring a magnolia tree that has grown tall in its search for light among the climbing plants and ivy.