The Prado in Madrid is one of the world’s most famous art museums and a must-visit on any trip to Madrid. It was only fifteen minutes’ walk from our AirBnB and close to the Reina Sofia. On the way we passed a wonderful vertical garden.
The Prado dates from 1785 when it was designed and built by Juan Villanueva to house the natural history collection of Charles III. However, his grandson, Ferdinand VII, changed the purpose of the building and the art gallery opened in 1819.
Like all museums and art galleries, you really need to visit multiple times, over the years, to make the most of this wonderful collection.
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) was a varied and mot extraordinary artist, creating paintings, drawings, etchings, tapestries and frescoes. I have always loved his ideas
Since 1901 ‘The Naked Maja’ and ‘The Clothed Maja’ have been shown together in the Prado. It is believed these are portraits of Manuel Godoy’s mistress, Pepita Todo. Godoy was the Prime Minister of Spain around the turn of the 19th century and a man who has been vilified by history.
in 1819 Goya moved to a house near the Segovia Bridge, and across the river from the Palace and Cathedral. There he made a series of paintings, The Black Paintings, on the walls of the house. They were later removed and transferred to canvas and we can now’ enjoy’ them in the Prado.
It is impossible not to be deeply saddened and disturbed by these paintings, and to imagine the extraordinary turmoil of his mind – a man who could see the beauty of the Maja and the depravity of people and have the courage to depict both.
There are many wonderful images in the museum but on this occasion we only wanted to see two painters. Diego Velazquez (1599-1660) was the leading artist in the court of Philip IV of Spain. What particularly struck me on this occasion was the honesty in some of his portraits and the way in which the subjects looked straight at you, the viewer. And again I thought of the courage of the artist to truly look into someone’s eyes, and see inside.
After experiencing these paintings one sees slightly differently, so, feeling subdued, it was time for a coffee break and perhaps a wander in the park.
The Prado in Madrid offered a most rewarding hour or two, but you can’t possibly see it all in one visit. I would love to return!