Commissioned by the Sevillian Manuel Gaviria Alcoba (1794-1855), II Marquis of the House of Gaviria, renowned banker and stockbroker, the building of the Gaviria Palace begun in 1846 over the foundations of the former Duke of Arcos Palace. In charge of its construction was Aníbal Álvarez Bouquel, a celebrated architect at the time, who had studied at the San Fernando School, in Madrid and later on in Rome, as well as an advocate of eclecticism in the capital, a movement in which elements from different periods and styles are blended together.
Also known as the Palacio de Buena Esperanza – referencing another of the marquis’ nobility titles – the Gaviria Palace was inaugurated in 1851 at a ball presided over by Queen Isabella II of Spain. La Nación newspaper highlighted that year that “no other equals its opulence and grandeur, its sumptuousness and refinement in Madrid”.
By the mid 19th century, the city’s area known as the Madrid of the Habsburgs and its environs was the capital’s preferred precinct amongst the upper classes; it is no coincidence that the Palace is located between Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace and the Royal Theatre – the latter had opened its doors just a year earlier, in 1850. Influenced by Italian architecture, very popular at the time, Álvarez Bouquel used as inspiration one of the most significant periods in European art, the Quattrocento, and more specifically the Farnese Palace in Rome.
Even though when the marquis of Gaviria was alive the Palace was used exclusively as residence, at different periods in history it has functioned as a multipurpose space. Thus, it served as headquarters for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War; and later on, it has been used as ministerial offices, customs and excise centre, and a space for entertainment and private events.
February 2017 the Palace launches its foray into its current role as an Exhibition Centre, housing M.C. Escher and Alphonse Mucha retrospectives, the collective exhibition ‘20th Century Revolutionaries. Magritte, Duchamp, Dalí. Masterpieces from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem’ and ‘Tamara de Lempicka. Queen of Art Déco’. In addition, the Patio Andaluz, second of the Gaviria Palace Exhibition Centre’s gallery spaces, has welcomed very successful shows such as ‘I Love Lego’, for all the family.
Marquis of Gaviria
Manuel Gaviria Alcoba, son of Manuel Gaviria Douza, I Marquis of the House of Gaviria, was a restless banker who took part in the founding of the Bank of Queen Isabella II of Spain together with José de Salamanca, José de Buschenthal and the Marquis of Santa Olalla.
Notable man of honour of the times, the Marquis of Gaviria was a member of parliament in 1847, life-long Senator and supernumerary knight for Carlos III by a Royal Decree issued on 24th December 1832. He was ordained knight of the Grand Cross of the Royal American Order of Isabella I of Castile on 16th September 1839 and on October 21st of the same year he garnered the Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III. He was recognised as ‘Gentleman of the Bedchamber’ on 18th August 1840. He was also Mayor of Madrid.
Thanks to his work as a banker, the marquis of Gaviria amassed a fortune that evidenced itself in the building of the ambitious palace of Italian influence, the Gaviria Palace.