HomeBlogDo You Know the “Museo Del Prado” in Madrid?

Do You Know the “Museo Del Prado” in Madrid?

One of Spain’s in general and Madrid’s in particular, most regarded postcard moments, the “Museo del Prado” is one of the world’s top art museums. But there is more to it than the picture. Here, we propose a guide through one of the must-see collections of all time.


Source: youtube.com

The original art bank was named the Royal Collection (“la Colección Real”), which goes back as far as the times of Felipe II, the Catholic Kings, Carlos I, and Felipe V. It suffered some alterations, for it was affected by donations and incidents (like the fire in Madrid’s Alcazar, in which more than five hundred paintings were burned or Jose Bonaparte’s theft during the Napoleonic invasion). Founded in 1819 (now over 200 years old), it was based on the monarchy’s taste for art and its sponsorship of painters throughout the centuries. Due to this political factor, it is not a balanced collection: it depicts the alliances and conflicts of the Spanish kings and queens during history and their preferences, which means that not all periods or artistic movements are equally represented.

Though significantly minor to the Royal Collection, the “Museo de la Trinidad” is the second most notorious source of the museum’s selection. This source originated during the Law of Spanish Confiscation. All the churches’ and monasteries’ artwork was stored in the Trinidad Calzada convent, whose original collection was amplified by Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón and the State, among others. Another party that included their paintings to the Prados was the “Museo de Arte Moderno”, which aimed toward more contemporary art. Once founded, the museum added what is now called the New Acquisitions (or “Nuevas Adquisiciones”), which came to the building as donations, inheritances, or bought material.

Some notorious works

Source: youtube.com

You may have heard of them, but did you know they were here? If you want to plunge into the culture and watch these paintings in their original titles and splendor, you can try studying Spanish lessons in Madrid.

  • Las Meninas, by Diego Velazquez: located in the museum’s core (room 12), this painting may seem small (even being one of the largest displays in the building, with its 318 x 276 cm) in contrast to the considerable fame it holds. Though it is not the only work by Velazquez in the exhibition (he is considered Spain’s most notorious painter), this specific painting is known for its several layers of meaning. While in the center, the spectator can see Princess Margarita Teresa aided by two court girls (or “meninas”); Velazquez includes himself on the side and even the king and queen on a back mirror. Due to its architecturally crafted technique, the spectator wonders whether the painter is portraying the Princess or the monarch.
  • The knight (or the nobleman) with the hand on his chest, by El Greco (whose original title, for those who want to take Spanish lessons, is El caballero con la mano en el pecho): originally from Greece, El Greco moved to Spain to work on paintings for a Monastery. Yet, he also started to take on the production of portraits of the aristocracy (also known as “hidalgos”). Though the identity of this particular nobleman remains unknown, his most notable characteristics (like the outfit, the sword, or the hand) have become a typical image for souvenirs.
  • The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch: the most outstanding work from one of the most prominent artists of the museum, this three-paneled triptych was said to be commissioned by different persons (such as Engelbert II of Nassau or Henry III of Nassau) and, as it is read from left to right, depicts a journey through biblical references from the Garden of Eden, with Adan and Eva, towards a strange-creatures-filled-world that finally ends in hell.
  • The Third of May 1808 in Madrid, by Francisco Goya: when José Bonaparte took control of Spain’s government, ending Carlos I’s monarchy (which arose into power due to the consequences of the Mutiny of Aranjuez, that brought down Carlos’ parents and Goya’s royal patrons, Carlos IV, and Maria), Goya’s political view was unclear until his series The Disasters of War saw the light of day, once the Bonapartes were out of the country. The Third of May 1808 in Madrid, in particular, shows the patriotism of the Spanish people in contrast to the dark French troops.
  • Portrait of a Cardinal, by Rafael: the Renaissance would not be complete without Rafael, and the Spanish monarchy was aware of this prestige. This unknown cardinal of the Vatican from the time when Julius II was Pope depicts a contrast between the bright face, the deep red coat, and the dark background.

Some curiosities

Source: pinterest.com
  • The eye does not meet everything: when the vast amount of artwork (over 35 000 pieces) meets a reduced space, you are left with hidden objects. While the exhibition has grown, showing over 1700 pieces, many have never met the spectator’s view.
  • A renowned director: you may be familiar with Picasso’s Guernica, but you may not know that this museum was its original habitat and that its author, Pablo Picasso, was the museum’s director during some of Spain’s Civil War years (from 1937 to 1939). Though he never got to take hold of the position, he sometimes took over the ambassador’s tasks.
  • For the love of Liz Taylor: 37000 dollars was the number Richard Burton spent in 1969 to buy a present for his wife, Liz Taylor. It was La Peregrina, a painting that had belonged to the Spanish crown for centuries.

The “Museo del Prado” is filled with some of the world’s most famous art pieces, vast, iconic and not in vain regarded as breathtaking. An unforgettable, must-see Spain classic that awaits fans of the art culture and culture lovers overall.

Anita Kantar
Anita Kantar
I'm Anita Kantar, a content editor at SQM Club. My role? Aligning content with company goals. Joining SQM marked a career milestone. Outside work, I enjoy literature and time with loved ones. Passionate about lifestyle, travel, and culinary arts, blending creativity with expertise. My journey? Curiosity about cultures and flavors, making me a trusted voice in lifestyle, travel, and culinary content.
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