The current structure of the Museo del Greco is the result of its past history, and especially the personality and original idea of its founder, the II Marquis de la Vega-Inclán. That is why at the beginning of the exhibition there is a small introduction to the figure of the Marquis and his idea of the Museum. The Marquis de la Vega-Inclán was a key figure both in the recovery of the figure of El Greco and in the beginnings of cultural tourism in the country, and the location and form of the Museum's collections are largely due to him.
One of the main issues that we try to explain in this first area is that El Greco never lived here, despite having been known for many years as the "Greco House-Museum". The old house that has been conserved was part of the Palace of the Old Duchess or the Duchess of Arjona, and not part of the Palace of the Marquis de Villena, where El Greco had rented several rooms. The former palace of the Marquis de Villena was in what are now the "Jardines del Tránsito", and at some point in the Modern Age it became attached to the palace of the Duchess of Arjona, but these are two different buildings.
In addition, in this first area we exhibit several important works not signed by El Greco, and that the Marquis acquired for the museum with the idea of creating a Spanish art museum that would help contextualize El Greco's work. Apart from this Spanish art museum, the Marquis also wanted to contextualize the painter's figure through recreations of 17th-century environments, in order to recreate a romantic idea of a historical ambiance museum, which we also try to explain and remember.
The rooms included in this section are: the courtyard, the kitchen, the Museum of Spanish Art and the studio.
Salto de línea The courtyard of the Museum is a historical courtyard probably from the 16th-17th centuries, with impressive neo-Mudejar plasterwork and original coffered ceilings, which follows the model of the traditional Toledo courtyards. In his idea of creating a historical ambiance museum, the Marquis reformed the courtyard by adding a tile plinth, two wells and two historic columns, probably taken from a ruined house in Toledo.
The courtyard is the distributor space of the original building that the Marquis bought in 1905 shortly after the eviction of the neighbours who lived there. It is also adorned with three jars from the 15th and 16th centuries also acquired by the Marquis.
From the courtyard you can access the audiovisual room, where the history of the Museum and the figure of El Greco are introduced, and the recreation of the kitchen.
Since the begining the kitchen became one of the Museum's most famous recreations. It was made by the Marquis de la Vega-Inclán and the architect Eladio Laredo in the manner of a "traditional Toledo cuisine".
It is a space that revolves around the home, not only meant for kitchen activities, but also as a fundamental part of the daily life of the house, hence the presence of the benches running on both sides of the home. Eladio Laredo and the Marquis included clay tiles interspersed with small rectangular tikes with heraldic symbols both on the floor and on the walls.
The kitchen is completed with a varied household trousseau, mainly from the Toledo centers of Talavera de la Reina and Puente del Arzobispo, the chronology of which expands from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
The next room is accessed by going up the stairs of the patio, and it is the room of the Spanish Art Museum. In this room we exhibit the great works that the Marquis bought for the Spanish art museum that was never concluded. Among them we can find: a portrait of the Marquis that Sorolla painted for his museum in Toledo, a copy by Madrazo of the Sagrada Familia del Greco which belonged to his family, a court portrait of Queen Regent Doña Mariana of Austria, a mannerist portrait attributed to Passerotti, a painting of Saint Sebastian of the Levantine school of the 15th century and a Spanish-Flemish coronation of thorns also from the 15th century.
Five of them are among the highlights of the Museum.
These works also represent the Marquis's continuous interaction with the art market, since they were acquired by many different methods. The painting by Sorolla was a gift from the painter himself, the two works from the 15th century were purchased for the museum, the portrait attributed to Passerotti was a purchase by the Marquis for his private collection, which he eventually ceded to the State after his death, and the Portrait of Doña Mariana was a donation from Archer Huntington, friend of the Marquis and founder of the Hispanic Society of New York.
This room, known at the time of the Marquis as "Anteroom" and today as The Study, was the anteroom of the study recreated by the Marquis in what is now the room of the Museum of Spanish Art. These two areas were set as spaces for reading, reflecting and studying, thus trying to show El Greco as an intellectual and liberal figure.
The intention has been to maintain this recreation to show that along with the idea of the Spanish art museum, the Marquis also sought to contextualize El Greco with the recreation of environments, such as this "study room" decorated with paintings and furniture from the 17th century.