The Museo Bellver (part of the collection of Mariano Bellver and his wife Dolores Mejías) opened in October of 2018 in the Casa Fabiola, opposite the upper end of Calle Mateos Gago on the edge of the old Jewish quarter, and is already something of a favourite. It’s an excellent choice of location, in a late 16th century Casa Palacio built around a typical Sevillano patio with marble columns and floors and decorative tiling, and takes its name from the novel Fabiola, written by Nicholas Wiseman, who was born in the house in 1802 and went on to become the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
The current building was the result of considerable restructuring while it belonged to the nearby Madre de Dios convent, though earlier it had belonged to the wealthy 14th century Jewish financier and royal minister Simon Leviés. At that time it was immediately behind the wall of the then Jewish Quarter, a short section of which can still be found just up the street.
The collection is housed in the rooms around the courtyard on the ground and first floors, and consists of 567 pieces. About half of these are paintings, but there are also sculptures, figurines, porcelain and ceramics, furniture, clocks, and a domestic chapel altarpiece, mostly from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, and it’s well worth spending an hour or two exploring.
The museum has a great atmosphere, small enough to avoid art fatigue, large enough for a good variety of styles and types of art. For me it particularly managed to encapsulate something of the essence of Seville in its paintings of patios and street scenes, and the decorations and furnishings of a typical upper class house, so that I was constantly reminded of the reasons why I made Seville my home, and the things I love here.