The Lazaro Galdiano Museum (Museo Lázaro Galdiano) contains a significant portion of José Lázaro Galdiano's private collection, which was donated to the Spanish state in 1947. The state then went on, in the following year, to create the Lázaro Galdiano Foundation for the management of the Museum and its all-important Library and Archives. Since 1954, the Foundation has also been responsible for publishing the prestigious Art Journal, GOYA (Revista de Arte, GOYA).
Within the art collection lies a wonderful art gallery—essential for the study of Spanish art—featuring, among others, the works of Francisco de Goya. It is complete with highlighted works from a variety of European schools (Bosch, Cranach, Reynolds, and Constable), sculptures, and items of art, spanning a period from the 6th century A.D. until the first half of the 20th century.
The opening display, on the Museum's first floor, details José Lázaro's journey as he gradually built up his collection, as well as its importance within the history of art. The second floor is dedicated to Spanish art, and the third to the European schools. The fourth floor is home to the Collector's Office—a space located halfway between the storehouse and the permanent exhibition. The office displays collections of fabrics, weapons, coins, medals, ivory, bronze, enamelwork, ceramics, and many other items.
José Lázaro Galdiano (born in Beire, Navarra in 1862 and died in Madrid in 1947) was a publisher, book lover, and art collector. He studied law in Valladolid, Barcelona, and Santiago de Compostela, going on to begin a career in journalism working for the Barcelona newspaper The Vanguard (La Vanguardia), where he was an art reporter and critic. José Lázaro came to Madrid toward the end of 1888, founded his own publishing house, La España Moderna, and began his art and book collection. The caliber of the collection made quite the impression at the end of the 19th century. .
In 1903, he married Argentinian noblewoman Paula Florido y Toledo (1856–1932) in Rome. In the following year, the couple began construction of their mansion, Parque Florido (Florido Park), which would later be converted into the Lázaro Galdiano Museum.
The beginning of the Spanish Civil War forced José Lázaro to leave Spain. He relocated to Paris, where he would go on to set up a new collection. In late 1939, he traveled to the US, settling in New York City, where he lived until January 1945 and which was the birthplace of another important collection. He returned to Spain in January 1945, intent on converting his Parque Florido home into a center for artistic study and research.