On display at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum is a large part of the private collection of José Lázaro Galdiano bequeathed to the Spanish State. The Lázaro Galdiano Foundation was established by the government in 1948. As well as administering directing the museum itself, the Foundation manages an important library, an archive, a study room containing prints and drawings and also edits the prestigious arts magazine “Goya”.
The art collection includes an excellent picture gallery, which is essential to the history of Spanish art and within which the work of Francisco de Goya stands out. Important European paintings are also included and are complemented by sculptures and decorative arts, dating from the 6th century BC up to the first half of the 20th century.
The conceptual display on the ground floor offers the key to understanding the collection, its origins and its importance in the history of art, and what is more, to take an aesthetic stroll amongst its most attractive pieces. The first floor is dedicated to Spanish art, the second floor to the European schools. On the third floor, a study gallery has been set up, holding the majority of the pieces from the collection, consisting of some thirteen thousand objects.
José Lázaro y Galdiano (Beire, Navarre 1862-Madrid 1947) was an editor, a bibliophile and art collector. He had studied law at Valladolid, Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela and initiated a career in journalism. He began as an art critic and chronicle writer for the Barcelona based newspaper “La Vanguardia”. When he moved to Madrid, at the end of 1888, he founded his very own editorial company, named La España Moderna, and started his art collection, which had already become important by the end of the 19th century.
In Rome, 1903, he married an Argentine lady by the name of Paula Florido y Toledo (1856-1932). The following year the newly married couple embarked upon the project of the construction of the “Parque Florido” palace, the museum in which Lázaro would shelter his collection, which was becoming ever more enriched by continuous purchases that were made by Lázaro with the financial support of his wife.
The outbreak of the civil war forced Lázaro to abandon Spain. He left for Paris, where he resided and formed a new collection. In 1940 he moved on to the United States, continuing there his purchase of art pieces. In 1945 Lázaro returned to Madrid and began to install all those pieces acquired in Paris and New York into the Parque Florido palace, alongside his former possessions. Thereby, he had formed what is probably the greatest private art collection of Spain.