One of the most visited tourist spots in Madrid, the Prado Museum is home to over 7,000 paintings. Though the emphasis is heavily on the three most famous Spanish masters – Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco – there are major and minor masterpieces from dozens of other artists.
Surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens, visitors have the opportunity to spend hours enjoying this early 19th-century site and its contents. The museum was completed in 1819 and the bulk of the early collection was drawn from paintings gathered by Spanish nobility.
It’s expected that the recent disagreements over the new wing under construction will be resolved soon and it will be completed not long after. If that happens, art lovers will be able to add to the list of works worth seeing those long-held in storage. Zurbarán, Pereda, and many more in the vault will considerably expand the works on display.
But those available now make the Prado well worth a day-long stroll. Apart from the aforementioned Spanish masters, there are numerous works by the Flemish, Dutch, German, French, and Italians. Many of these were acquired by conquest from the time that Spain was one of the leading powers of Europe.
But however they were collected, the works themselves remain timeless examples of what artists in any era can achieve.
Walk through the ‘Goya entrance’, on the ground floor at the start of your journey and pause to enjoy the masterpiece of Fra Angelico, La Anunciación a la Virgen María. Not far away are some other excellent Italian works – by Botticelli, Mantegna, del Sarto, and Corregio. Don’t miss Titian’s Venus.
Carry on to see a number of works by Bosch, possibly the world’s first surrealist. There’s the Garden of Earthly Delights, the Seven Deadly Sins, and others. Centuries ahead of his time, these 16th-century paintings are the product of what can at least be called a ‘vivid imagination’.
On the second floor is several 17th century Flemish, including works by Rubens and van Dyck. Rubens’ Garden of Love and Three Graces are on display. Nearby is some works by the famed mid-17th century Seville painter Murillo. His three Immaculate Conceptions are among the highlights of the collection.
But unquestionably the star attractions are the major Spanish masters, particularly Goya and El Greco. It is these works that draw the most traffic.
El Greco, though born in Crete (hence the name), lived much of his life in Toledo, Spain. There he produced his John the Baptist, The Adoration of the Shepherds, The Resurrection, and others in his distinctive style.
Works of Goya, too, are numerous and display the full range of styles he used over the years. Those painted later in life form some of his most striking. Saturn Devouring One of His Sons is perhaps the most representative of this period. Of course, Goya’s clothed Maja and Naked Maja both continue to draw visitors year after year.
The Museo del Prado is proudly offered as one of Madrid’s most highly sought-out tourist destinations. When you visit that magnificent city, be sure to see for yourself why that is so.