Biography of Enrique. XVII Marqués de Cerralbo Aguilera y Gamboa (1845-1922)

Spanish collector born in Madrid on July 8, 1845 and died in Madrid in 1922, archaeologist and politician. At his death, he/she donated to the Spanish state its magnificent collection of works of art and the Madrid Palace the housing, today called Museo Cerralbo.

The origins of the illustrious House of Cerralbo date back to the 13th century. It was the eighth Lord of Cerralbo, Rodrigo Ossorio, who received the title of Marquis of Cerralbo, Carlos I for their services to the monarch in Germany in 1533. His successor in title, Juan Pacheco Ossorio, was captain general of Galicia and as such defended the city of La Coruña from the attack of the English pirate Francis Drake in 1589, and the third Marquis of Cerralbo became viceroy of Mexico. Successive generations left other sonorous names for the history of Spain, to José de Aguilera y Contreras, XVI Marqués de Cerralbo, who, after the early death of his eldest sons, his eldest grandson Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa was succeeded in the title.

Son of Francisco Aguilera Becerril, count of Villalobos, and his wife María Gamboa López de León, Enrique de Aguilera was born in Madrid, in the family home in the plazuela de Matute on July 8, 1845. From a child, when he/she was still a student of the pious schools, the future Marquis showed a rare hobby of collecting old coins, whose purchase, according to his biographers, invested all the weekly pay. At the death of his father, succeeded in 1867, Enrique de Aguilera inherited the title of count of Villalobos. After his grandfather passed away few years later inherited also the titles of Marquis of Cerralbo, Almarza and Campofuerte, and count of Alcudia, Foncalada and Holy Roman Empire, in addition to a generous heritage who managed intelligently.

As he/she had always shown a natural inclination towards the arts and letters, he/she combined his legal education with those of philosophy and letters in the Central University of Madrid, and even publish some poetic compositions in the Catholic enlightenment. In 1871 he/she married with María Manuela innocence Serrano Cerver, widow of the soldier and politician Antonio María del Valle. The marriage had two sons, Antonio and Amelia, whom the Marquis of Cerralbo was like a second father.

Already at that time had left well the Marquis clear his vocation in politics, after joining the twenty-four years in the Carlist party. In 1872 he/she was elected Deputy to Cortes by the Salamanca municipality of Ledesma. In these years the friendship of the Marquis was very intense with the infante Carlos, who became ordered him to organize a Carlist loyal Board to deal with the then-head of the party Cándido Nocedal. In 1885, Enrique de Aguilera was named Senator of the Kingdom, and five years later the infante Carlos asked him to be its representative in Spanish territory. Its activity in favour of the Carlist cause was so intense that Carlos awarded him the Golden Fleece. The Marquess left his post as Royal representative in 1890, citing health reasons, though many thought that actually the Marquis was deeply disappointed by the internal crisis of the party. He/She would return to political activity a few years later, coinciding with the death of Carlos in 1909, after being called by Jaime in 1912, but he/she never had with the tuning or the good relations he/she had with his predecessor. Despite this, he/she represented Jaime until 1919, when the differences between aliadofilos and germanofilos during the first world war caused deep crisis at the heart of the Carlist party.

When he/she began his departure from politics, had the Marquis more time to surrender to other hobbies. One was the breeding of horses on their soriana farm, where he/she had great copies that got awards in various competitions. Another, historical research, discipline in which highlighted and which was elected member of the Royal Academy of history, as later he/she would also form part of the Royal Spanish Academy and the of fine arts of San Fernando.

But the passion of Enrique de Aguilera was collecting. For years, the Marquis of Cerralbo had traveled by a score of countries, where spent fortunes on acquiring works of art destined for his private collection. In 1883, the stepchildren of the Marquis of Cerralbo acquired a plot of the calle Ventura Rodríguez, who later would yield to Enrique de Aguilera to raise a palace where he/she could keep his rich art collection. The Marquis himself was, who designed the building and the small garden, and the executors of the project were architects hair Lapiedra, Sureda and hair and roasted, and their decorator José Soriano Fort.

Works of construction and refurbishment lasted over ten years, but behind them was finished one of the most beautiful palaces of the capital, which was for years one of the nerve centres of Madrid social life. The Palace, which boasted a ballroom of Rococo style, a gala and a library with more than ten thousand volumes, today houses the interesting Museo Cerralbo, which is open to the public and which preserves the splendid art collection gathered by the Marquis in his many travels. In the course of these, as well as works of art, it also acquired exquisite pieces of furniture bound for his palace, as for example the splendid lamp of Murano glass that still remains in the current Museum Cerralbo music room. Precisely with destination to that room the Marquis bought in Paris various Oriental instruments. Little by little, the collection of Enrique de Aguilera increased with pieces of the best porcelain, bronzes, engravings, tapestries and carpets, as well as a selection of weapons from different countries (and in whose collection the Marquis was helped by his stepson Antonio de el Valle) and a pictorial Gallery where you can find paintings by Ribera, Zurbarán, Alenza and Van Dyck. Little by little, the Marquis arrived to become an expert in the task of recognizing and price antiques, and Numismatic specialist had done before. Good example of this is the carefully catalogued collection of ancient coins that is his palace.

All objects of art acquired in different parts of Europe had to also add some relics of the first order, because in recent years the Marquis had specially developed his fondness for the science of archaeology, promoting and by supporting different excavations in several Spanish sites. In 1912, the Marquis attended as representative of the Spanish Academy of history the International Congress of anthropology and prehistoric archaeology held in Geneva, where, following the success of their papers, the Spanish was admitted as an official language in the next Congress.

At his death, Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, Marquis of Cerralbo, it donated to the Spanish state his palace with all the works of art that were "without that is ever shifting, and under no circumstances, authority or law move from place, objects are changed or sold". This has been, and today the Museo Cerralbo is still open to the public in Madrid calle de Ventura Rodríguez.