Pascual de Gayangos: A Nineteenth-Century Spanish Arabist

By Cristina Álvarez Millán; Claudia Heide | Go to book overview

10
Gayangos’s Legacy: His Son-in-Law
Juan Facundo Riaño (1829–1901) and
the Victoria and Albert Museum1

Marjorie Trusted

In February 1875, Juan Facundo Riaño (1829–1901) (see Fig. 1) wrote a lengthy Report for the South Kensington Museum about Spanish works of art, and concluded: ‘I have now suggested … what I think advisable to further the study of Spanish art at the Kensington Museum in compliance with the orders you have been good enough to send me.’2 This communication, along with Riaño’s other meticulous and often discursive reports, sent to the Museum during the 1870s, encapsulates Riaño’s role as adviser to the Museum on Spanish decorative arts and his suggestions for the ways in which South Kensington could expand its collection during this period. Riaño had been appointed Professional Referee to the South Kensington (now the Victoria and Albert) Museum in May 1870, and sent reports on possible acquisitions at the end of almost every month, generally from his residence in Madrid at 4, calle de Barquillo, from at least November 1871 until July 1877.3

This study is a continuation of my 2006 article on Riaño’s recom mendations for the South Kensington Museum, and is based primarily on the reports held in the Registry at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I aim to discuss several of the acquisitions made by South Kensington thanks to Riaño’s energy and perspicacity, and to look further at the circumstances under which he was making his recommendations and at the problems which sometimes arose because of practical complications and even political events. As noted in my earlier article, in effect Riaño served as the successor to John Charles Robinson (1824–1913). Robinson (later Sir Charles Robinson) had purchased innumerable Spanish works of art for South Kensington during the 1860s, in particular sculpture and silver, but had been dismissed in 1867.4 Henry Cole (1808–82), director of the museum, met Riaño through the British ambassador to Spain, Austen (later Sir Austen) Henry Layard (1817–94), in Madrid, in April 1870; he appointed the Spaniard as an adviser to the museum soon afterwards, on Layard’s recommendation. Riaño was an

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