In 2018, a new and very interesting museum space was added to the great cultural offer of Seville in the heart of the Santa Cruz neighborhood. It is the Bellver Museum, installed in the so-called Casa Fabiola.
It is a palace that dates back to the 16th century, although it has been extensively renovated throughout its history and most of its current appearance dates from the 19th century, when it was owned by the Marquises of Ríos. It responds to the classic typology of Sevillian palace houses, articulated around a central porticoed patio, with marble columns and semicircular arches. It has an area of almost 2,000 m2, with the main area on the first floor and a rich decoration based on tiles, paint, hardwoods and stucco.
After changing ownership on several occasions, the City Council acquired it in 2016, with the aim of rehabilitating it to house the Mariano Bellver art collection, which he had donated to the city the previous year.
Mariano Bellver was a collector from Bilbao, but settled in Seville since the 1940s, who throughout his life formed a magnificent collection of more than half a thousand pieces that cover a chronology that spans between the 16th and 20th centuries.
The heart of the collection is the set of costumbrista painting, which is probably the most important set of works on this subject. It is focused mainly on Andalusian authors of the 19th century and includes works by such prominent artists as Valeriano Domínguez Bécquer, Manuel García y Rodríguez, Ricardo López Cabrera, José Gutiérrez de la Vega, José García Ramos, Gonzalo Bilbao, Antonio Cabral Bejarano and José Pinelo Llull.
The popular theme that characterizes this type of painting and the fact that most of the works are framed in Andalusian settings mean that visiting the collection in some way serves to make a beautiful trip to the past. Through many of the works we can imagine the Seville of the 19th century and glimpse what remains of it in today's city and what has been irretrievably lost over time.
Although the essence of the Bellver Museum is the collection of traditional paintings, the collection also includes works in other formats, such as furniture, clocks or pieces of sculpture. Among them, we enter this maternity hospital entitled Paz, a terracotta work by the sculptor from Mairena del Alcor, Antonio Gavira Alba.
He is one of the most valued Andalusian sculptors of the 20th century and in this work he shows some of the essential characteristics of his style, which participates in the so-called Mediterranean classicism. He combines the simplicity of the forms, the undulating tendency and the smoothness in the treatment of the surfaces. The joint representation of the mother with the son was one of the recurring themes throughout his career and in the example of the Bellver collection we see one of the most beautiful expressions of him.
It is a splendid piece that manages to convey all the emotion of the wonderful spiritual and magical thread that unites a mother with her child. Without a doubt, it constitutes one more reason to visit the Casa Fabiola, a true treasure of the Santa Cruz neighborhood, in which a palatial architecture of beautiful classical lines is combined with a splendid artistic collection that is everyone's heritage thanks to the priceless generosity of the great man who was Mariano Bellver.