The Cerralbo Museum collections include the Cerralbo collection, which was bequeathed to the State in 1922, and the Villa Huerta collection, which was bequeathed to the Museum in 1927. The two are of the same nature and collecting taste and are comprised of a large variety of objects, most of which were acquired on the active art market during the last quarter of the 19th century.
Although there is little information on the origins of the works, we do know that the purchases were continuous beginning in 1876 once the Marquis of Cerralbo sold some country estates he inherited from his grandfather for the purpose of acquiring “ artistic, archaeological and interesting objects”. To do so, he frequently attended the auctions held at the Hotel Drouot in Paris where he acquired sculptures, armour and arms, paintings, drawings, musical instruments and exotic or Oriental objects. In 1883, he began buying from the Marquis of Salamancas estate thereby incorporating fifty paintings from the Vista Alegre palace gallery into his own art gallery, many of which came from the former Madrazo collection. Around 1895, the Marquis culminated the project by creating a museum and installing his collections in the Portico, Main Staircase and in the halls of the Main Floor of the family residence in calle Ventura Rodríguez which before becoming a public institution was known as the “Art and Archaeology Galleries of the Marquis of Cerralbo”.
One of the objectives of the research carried out at the Cerralbo Museum is to update the way these collections are catalogued by reviewing data and adding unpublished information on authors or production sites, dates, techniques and historical/artistic or functional contexts. This objective is combined with another line of research into the history of the Museum, the formation of its collections and surroundings, and the historical figure of the Marquis of Cerralbo in his many facets as a Carlist politician, collector and archaeologist.
The painting, drawing, archaeology and decorative arts collections are currently under study and review as are the Carlist documents and photographs from the Museum's Historical Archive. The results of the research completed by Cerralbo Museum personnel or by external researchers are disseminated via specialised publications or the files that are incorporated and updated in the collective catalogue of the Spanish Museum Collections Digital Network (cer.es) which is accessible via the Internet.