Museo del Prado
Welcome to one of the world’s leading art galleries. The more than 7000 paintings that are conserved in the collection of the Prado Museum (of which only 1500 are currently on display) are like a window to the historical whims of the Spanish soul, both grandiose and imperious in Velázquez’s real paintings blackly tumultuous in the black paintings of Goya, and looking outward with sophisticated artworks in Europe.
Spend as much time as possible in the Prado or, better yet, plan to make a couple of visits because it can be a bit overwhelming if you try to assimilate everything at once.
The entrance to the Prado is through the Puerta de los Jerónimos to the east , with tickets for sale under the Puerta de Goya. Once inside, pick up the free plan at the ticket office or at the information desk right next to the entrance: list the locations of 50 of the Prado’s most famous works and give room numbers for the most important artists.
The west wing of the Prado (Villanueva Building) was completed in 1785, as the neoclassical Palacio de Villanueva. Originally conceived as a house of science, it later served, somewhat ignominiously, as a cavalry barracks for Napoleon’s troops during his occupation of Madrid between 1808 and 1813. In 1814 King Ferdinand VII decided to use the palace as a museum, although its purpose it was more about finding a way to store the hundreds of real paintings that accumulate dust than any high-level civic ideal: this was a time when art was a real preserve. Five years later, the Museo del Prado opened with 311 Spanish paintings on display.
The Prado Museum opened to the public on November 19, 1819 as the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture. In 2019 we celebrate its Bicentennial, a commemoration that will show the path traveled from 1819 to the present time. On the occasion of this exceptional occasion, we also intend to reflect on its future, on the challenges posed to this and all the great museums of ancient art: the need to attract social groups that have traditionally not been attracted to their collections, to promote research on gender studies, minorities, or the challenges arising from overcrowding. In addition, during the next few years the conclusion of the so-called Campus del Prado is planned with the last building that integrates it, the Kingdom Hall of the old Buen Retiro Palace, an incorporation that will force us to completely rethink the current layout of the collections.
The Museo Nacional del Prado, since it was inaugurated in 1819 and throughout its centennial history, has fulfilled the high mission of conserving, exhibiting and enriching the collection of collections and works of art that, closely linked to the history of Spain , constitute one of the highest manifestations of artistic expression of recognized universal value.
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Goya) is located on the three floors of the Prado, but we recommend starting at the southern end of the floor or lower level. In Room 65, El dos de mayo and El tres de mayo de Goya are among the most emblematic paintings in Madrid; they give life to the anti-French revolt of 1808 and later execution of the insurgents in Madrid. Beside him, in rooms 67 and 68, are some of his most obscure and disturbing works, The Black Paintings; they are so called in part by the dark browns and blacks they dominate, but more by the distorted appearance of their characters.
There are more Goyas on the first floor in Rooms 34 to 37. Among them are two more of Goya’s most famous and intriguing oils: La maja dressed and La maja desnuda . These portraits, in room 37, of an unknown woman, commonly thought to be the Duchess of Alba (who may have been Goya’s mistress), are identical except for the lack of clothing in the latter. There are more Goyas on the top floor.
Diego Rodríguez de Silva and Velázquez (Velázquez) is another of the great masters of Spanish art that distinguishes the Prado so much. Of all his works, Las Meninas (Room 12) is what most people come to see. Completed in 1656, it is more properly known as The Family of Philip IV (The Family of Philip IV). The rooms surrounding Las Meninas contain Velazquez’s finest works: see in particular his paintings of several royals who seem to jump out of the canvas: Philip II, Philip IV, Margaret of Austria (a younger version of which appears in Las Meninas ), Prince Baltasar Carlos and Isabel de Francia – on horseback.
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