Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli

Its museum

The visit to this monument also includes the Hospital-Pantheon of Cardinal Tavera, which encompasses the Renaissance courtyards designed by Alonso de Covarrubias; the 17th-century hospital pharmacy and the burial chapel of Hernán González and Nicolás de Vergara, with its Sacristy and crypt; a museum of painting and decorative arts of the 15th-18th centuries in the public area of the former hospital; the area given over to the El Salvador and San Juan Bautista infirmaries; and rooms occupied by the patrons and chaplains.

This museum, which sets out to recreate a palatial environment of the 16th and 17th centuries, also has a significant art gallery and collection of furniture--particularly seating, cabinets and extremely valuable Vargueños--in addition to Flemish tapestries of the period.

The sculptures and paintings of Domenicos Theotokopoulos, El Greco, occupy a very prominent place, as the Hospital Tavera was the last institution for which the Cretan worked. He was entrusted with the iconographic scheme of the chapel and also brought several lawsuits against the institution, despite his friendship with its administrator, the humanist Pedro Salazar de Mendoza. Equally interesting is the set of portraits, including works by Sánchez Coello, Pantoja de la Cruz, Zurbarán, Carreño de Miranda and others, and the Italian painting, prominent among which in quality and number are the works of Luca Giordano.

Basically, what this museum displays is a partial reconstruction of the early Medinaceli collection which remained intact until 1886, when it was divided into six parts. This early collection was formed by merging holdings that were outstanding in themselves, such as the collection of the 3rd Duke of Alcalá,224 that of the 9th Count of Santisteban225 and that of the 9th Duke of Medinaceli,226 and is now dispersed among public museums and private collections.

One of the aims of the Ducal House of Medinaceli Foundation is to study, disseminate and, as far as possible, reintegrate the collection, the most important surviving portion of which is exhibited together in this museum, where it has arrived via different paths, as it consists of the collections of the former San Juan Bautista and Duque de Lerma foundations, enriched with works from the holdings of the Ducal House of Medinaceli Foundation, the institution which has absorbed the other two through a merger.

The first was the foundation established by Cardinal Tavera to govern the hospital, and its collection was therefore comprised of the Hospital's own furniture and artworks. The second was set up by Doña María Luisa Bahía y Chacón to honour the memory of her husband, Fernando Fernández de Córdoba y Pérez de Barradas, 14th Duke of Lerma. The collection of this Duke of Lerma consisted basically of the group of works he inherited in 1886 from the aforementioned art gallery of his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Medinaceli, and therefore, by adding the works provided by the current Duchess of Medinaceli or acquired by the Ducal House of Medinaceli Foundation she established, it has been possible to achieve a partial, albeit significant, reconstruction of the early Medinaceli collection.

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Hall of Saint John the Baptist
The Baptism of Christ El Greco1608-1621.
Museum, Hall of Mirrors
Dutch octagonal ebony mirror 17th century
Copy of Titian's Charles V at the Battle of Mühlberg Alonso Sánchez Coello 1575
Patrons' dining room
The Nativity Luca Giordano 17th century
Italian escritoire in ebony and ivory with biblical scenes. 17th century.
Central chest of a pharmacy cabinet, known as the "pharmacist's eye" 17th century
Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Lerma Juan Pantoja de la Cruz1602
Lady of the House of Medinaceli Juan Carreño de Miranda 1683
Juan Francisco de la Cerda Enríquez de Ribera, Marquis of Cogolludo Francisco de Zurbarán 1650

For more detailed information about a selection of the main works housed in this museum, visit the section entitled The Collection.