2016

 Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes

Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes

As a result of 1948 investigations this place was proclaimed as Miguel de Cervantes' birthplace. It is located in the historic city of Alcalá de Henares. In this Museum the everyday life of a wealthy Spanish family in the 16th and 17th centuries is recreated in detail. Thus we recall the figure of Cervantes, his life, his family and atmosphere that could inspire his work.

1. Visit to the House

The first space that visitors find after entering is the central courtyard, which features the original stone well that supplied the house with water for everyday use. The lower gallery is supported by eight columns with Corinthian capitals originally from the Episcopal Palace in Alcalá de Henares, while the upper gallery has wooden post and a balustrade of the same material.

The hall
Here visitors can admire the armchairs or “friar chairs” arranged around a brazier. The draped fabric and embossed leather covering the walls helped to keep in the warmth provided by the heater.

The surgery
It is a room dedicated to Rodrigo de Cervantes and displays all the instruments associated with his profession: sirurgical tools, spice racks, alembics, medical treatises and barber´s chair inspired by the gout stools used by Spanish monarchs. On the right wall can find some rests of frescoes, one of the evidences of the original house existence in the mid-16th century.

The dining room
It is decorated with a panel of ornamental tiles like the ones found at the Escorial monastery and features a selection of the most widely used crokery of the period: ceramics from Talavera and Puente del Arzobispo (Toledo), lusterware from Manises (Valencia) and pieces from Villafeliche (Zaragoza).

A doorway in the dinning room leads to a small kitchen with a fireplace, where the household would gather. This is decorated with utensils and arrangements of fruit and vegetables, spices typically found in Mediterranean and Islamic dishes, and large clay jars used to store water from the well and oil for cooking and lighting the rooms.

The tour of the ground floor ends with a visit to the ladies´ room were the women sit on cushions “a la morisca” or Moorish style, to read, play music, do needlework, pray or talk. Rugs, mats and braziers are other typical features of this type of room.

The room dedicated to "the Master Pedro,s puppet show" is a scenographic display featuring tha characters, scenery and a dramatised recording of one of the most renowned passages from Don Quixote (2nd part. CH. XXV et seq.), in conmmemoration of the author's fondness for puppet theatres.

The gentelman’s bedroom
This room recreates the chamber used by the writer’s granfather, Juan de Cervantes, a graduate of law, who was actually the master of this property. An interesting collection of desks, braziers and trunks, evoking his interest for travelling, and the portrait of a mature Miguel de Cervantes are displayed.

Ladies, duennas and children’s chambers.
The women and children slept in differenciated rooms from men. This is an eminently female realm, divided into three separate spaces: the private bathing and dressing room, the women and children´s chamber, and the “estrado del cariño”, or private parlour, with the cradle evoking Cervante´s birth.

2. Collections

The Cervantes' Birthplace Museum recurrently bring us back to the craft of writing through elements like this little lectern table of the second half of the 16th century.

This upholstered armchair in velvet and damasked cloth that reminds us of the good position of Cervantes' family at the time in which they occupied the house. Armchair dates from the 17th century.

Home comfort was well appreciated and objects like this magnificent brazier was regarded as both decorative and prestigious. This brazier dates back to the mid 17th century.

The references to Cervantes, the writer, and his family position are reflected upon this richly ornamented scriptorium from the second half 16th century

Manises ceramics was famous for its golden iridescent lusterware thanks to the technical and aesthetic achievements of pottery craftsmen whose savoir-faire was to bring together Hispano- Muslim and Christian tradition in order to get a completely new and original outcome Europe wide. Manises pot of golden lusterware.

Among the objects in the house we could not to live out some representative elements of the deeply rooted religious fervour of the Spain of that time when reliquaries player a mayor role. Silver bronze reliquary from the first quarter of 17th century.

This magnificent carved ivory and carey work illustrates on the one hand, the religious sentiment so resilient in Spanish society of the Cervantes' era, and on the other hand the refined taste of those who could afford good quality pieces. Even though it arguably seems to be rather beyond Cervantes' family means.

3. Cervantine editions

This is one of the scarce copies of the Quixote first edition that was published in 1605 out of the author and the printer Francisco de Rojas's control, due to the immediate success of the book.

First translation into a foreign language of Don Quixote. It was translated to English by Thomas Shelton and then printed by Edward Blount. This 1620 issue is an example of the interest aroused by the work of Cervantes in England from the very beginning.

First illustrated edition of Don Quixote printed in Spanish workshop. María Armenteros, Juan Antonio Bonet's widow, printed it in 1674 with 34 pictures by Diego de Obregón. This particular edition set a trend followed by many later Spanish publications.

This is one of the most appreciated editions in the 18th century. In 1746 the printing works were made in Hague by Pieter de Hondt including 31 illustrated sheets drawn by Coypel and other artists.

Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes
Credits: Story

Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes
www.museocasanataldecervantes.org.

Subdirección General de Bellas Artes
Dirección General de Promoción Cultural
Oficina de Cultura y Turismo
Comunidad de Madrid
www.madrid.org.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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