The Prado Museum in Madrid is one of the most famous art collections in the world, as rich as the collections of the Louvre and the Hermitage. The foundation of the collection is Spanish paintings, subsequently supplemented by canvases and sculptures by authors from other countries. The works of Rubens, Raphael, Bruegel, Goya, Bosch, Velázquez and other titans of painting attract more than two million people a year to the Spanish capital.
History of the Prado Museum
In the second half of the 18th century, museums of various kinds were actively opened all over Europe. Charles III wanted to open a natural history museum in his country. The design work was begun by the architect Juan de Villanueva (1775). In 1808, the Spanish royal family lost power, and J. Bonaparte ascended the throne. The unfinished monumental building caught his attention, and he decided to open a painting museum in it. From the idea of Bonaparte to this day survived only the name, the museum itself was not opened because of the death of the architect. The Prado is the name of the square where the structure was erected.
In 1813 the Spaniards succeeded in displacing the French conquerors, and Ferdinand VII became king. His wife, Maria Isabella of Portugal, suggested opening an art gallery in the building and later creating a public museum.
1819 was the birth year of the famous collection. For 10 years, its collection has been formed by acquisitions of the royal family. Since 1829, private individuals began to donate exhibits as well. In 1869, the Prado Museum was nationalized. The tragic events of the 20th century did not damage the Spanish treasury: the exhibits were temporarily moved to neutral Switzerland.
Famous masterpieces at the Prado Museum
The Prado collection contains more than 8,000 paintings and more than 1,000 sculptures. But despite the opening of the new building in 2007, the exhibition space holds only a little more than a quarter of the collection. The rest of the artifacts are in storage and are only offered for viewing at temporary exhibitions. Nevertheless, it is not possible to see the available exhibits in one visit. How not to miss the most famous and interesting?
Every visitor at the entrance will receive a nice gift – a map with the most famous masterpieces of art, recommended for viewing. A total of 15 paintings are listed there. But there are several works of art that attract crowds of connoisseurs.
Diego Velázquez “The Meninas”
In Spanish the word means “maidens. Another title of the painting is “The Family of Philip IV. The painting attracts attention with its complex composition and hidden meaning. The viewer is presented with a portrait of the King of Spain and his wife. Their daughter Marguerite Teresa, surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, is watching the proceedings. The ruling couple almost remains “behind the scenes,” they are depicted schematically, like the reflection of a mirror hanging on the wall. The little infanta and her entourage, on the other hand, are in the center and radiate a silvery glow and light.
The maestro himself is also present in the picture. In those years, drawing was not recognized as art, it was a craft. But Velázquez managed to become a court painter, so his figure on the canvas shows his high status. Especially since the cross of the Order of Santiago on Diego’s chest was written by the king himself.
El Greco The Adoration of the Shepherds
El Greco was a very religious man, which is why biblical subjects are central to his works. “The Adoration of the Shepherds” was painted to order for the oldest monastery in Toledo. The picture is executed in gloomy tones, characteristic of the author’s last creative stage. But the magical light surrounding the baby with the Virgin not only illuminates the cave with the shepherds, it is also transmitted to the viewer. The angels hovering over the newborn are sad. Their presence underscores the child’s divine purpose, but they already know his destiny.
This painting was the last of El Greco’s career. There is a theory that he immortalized himself in the image of the kneeling shepherd.
Francisco Goya Portrait of the Family of Charles IV
Visitors to the Prado in Madrid are attracted to this painting for two reasons. The royal family is dressed in astonishingly luxurious costumes that can be viewed endlessly. The regalia and jewels are brilliantly written.
At the same time in the picture is clearly visible psychological portrait of each family member and their relationship to each other. The gentleman on the left, dressed in blue with a haughty face, would become the tyrant Ferdinand VII. His bride-to-be pointedly turned her back on him. Queen Marie-Louise is depicted in the center, with the king himself standing to the side. It’s just like life. He was not an ambitious man, constantly withdrawing from governing the country and, in recent years, handing over the reins of power to his wife’s favorite. The royal family, having received the work, did not express any emotion and never commissioned Goya again.
Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights
The famous triptych from the Prado Museum in Madrid attracts attention with its many figures, unusual constructions, and minute details. The left sash shows the beginning of the biblical story of the emergence of mankind – Adam and Eve are in the wonderful Garden of Eden. The central part represents human life in all its hypostases. The right sash is painted in dark colors and symbolizes the end of life. The ugly musical instruments make you think of hell. Throughout the 20th century, experts have argued about the meaning behind the work, but have never come to a consensus.
Peter Paul Rubens Three Graces
Every person, when they think of the word “gracefulness,” imagines something light and airy. Seeing Rubens’ creation in the Prado Museum, many viewers cannot hide their surprise. Obese women are far from the accepted standards of beauty. But admitted by whom? In Rubens’ time, women were not thin. The artist painted people in their natural state, without embellishment, without descending into vulgarity. Looking at the dancing ancient goddesses, visitors feel beauty and love. The secret is that one of the graces depicted is the painter’s wife. He had just gotten married and was enjoying his happiness.
Interesting facts about the Prado Museum
- In its early years, the Prado Museum was not accessible to visitors on days when it rained.
- From 1936 to 1939, the museum was headed by Pablo Picasso.
- In the exhibition there is an exact copy of the “Mona Lisa”, the authorship is attributed to a pupil of the great Leonardo.
- There is no room number thirteen in the museum.
How to get there?
Find the Prado Museum is not difficult, it is located in the central part of the capital. It is possible to get there:
- by subway (Atocha station). From the exit, following the signs, the road will be about 350 meters.
- by bus (№9,10, 10, 14, 27, 34, 45).
Opening hours and prices at the Museo del Prado
The Prado National Museum works on a very convenient schedule – without days off from 10-00 to 20-00. It closes an hour earlier on Sundays and holidays. The ticket price – 15 euros, for preferential categories of visitors – 7.5 euros (people over 65 years, children from large families, youth card holders). Free admission is available daily 2 hours before closing time. Photography and videotaping are prohibited.
Official website: https://www.museodelprado.es
Video overview of the Prado Museum
Reviews about the Prado Museum
“I’m not a fan of museums, at most I can stand two hours. But I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t want to leave. Usually in art galleries after a while everything starts to merge and flicker for me. In the Prado, the halls are quite modest, with a lot of space between paintings, which allows you to better perceive them. From what I saw, I liked Tiepolo’s The Immaculate Conception and Bosch’s The Garden the most. Although it is forbidden to take pictures, I quietly took a few selfies. No one made a comment. All in all, I liked everything.
Galina, Nizhny Novgorod:
“I had the idea-fix to visit this museum after reading the hyped novel The Master of the Prado Museum. Although art historians criticize it, I was fascinated by it! At the museum, I enjoyed looking at the pictures described, remembering the riddles from the book. I couldn’t make it in one trip, I went there twice. Once I took advantage of a free opportunity two hours before closing time. I thought there would be a long line, but compared to the Louvre and the Vatican Museums, there was almost no one – I stood for exactly 10 minutes.
Larisa, St. Petersburg:
“I hadn’t been to the Louvre, so I was interested in seeing the Gioconda, or rather a copy of it from the same time. Honestly, I’m not impressed. But I liked El Greco very much, I just rediscovered this artist. I’m not good with languages. Before going to Madrid, I read on the Internet that all the inscriptions are in Spanish and English. That’s why I originally took an audio guide in Russian (6 euros). It is forbidden to take photos, the selfie stick at the entrance was told to take it to the luggage room, it’s in the same building.