THE PRADO MUSEUM
The Prado Museum was inaugurated in 1819 and houses the private art collections of the sovereigns of Spain, who over the centuries have collected a huge amount of masterpieces.
Therefore, the main feature of the Prado Museum is that the museum is an expression of the taste and personality of the sovereigns of Spain. For this reason, it’s very difficult to select the most important works of art to see, and my suggestion for those who visit the museum for the first time is to plan in advance what to see, creating a tour by historical periods or by artists.
The Prado Museum art collections
The works housed at the Prado Museum are displayed on three floors, and illustrate the history of the cultural politics of the Spanish court.
Therefore, there are paintings by court painters and great artists of the past, such as the Venetian painter Titian, who was the official portrait painter of Charles V, who loved the Flemish painters, as well.
We owe to Philip II, instead, the world’s greatest collection of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch; whereas Philip IV allowed Velazquez to express himself to the best of his talent, and bought works of the Italian Renaissance for this art collection.
Thanks to Philip V paintings by French painters enriched the collection; whereas the court of Charles IV was dominated by the personality of Francisco Goya, on display at the Prado Museum with almost 130 works.
A large section of the Prado Museum is characterized by religious paintings, not only because the Church has played a dominant role in Spain over centuries, but also because in 1872 paintings coming from the collection of the Museo de la Trinidad, full of medieval works coming from all over Spain and painted by artists who hadn’t work for the sovereigns, entered the museum.
That’s why you’ll find works by El Greco, who worked especially in Toledo.
The paintings on display at the Prado Museum
You can’t visit a museum as big as the Prado Museum with only one visit (like the Louvre Museum!).
Over the last few years the Museum has made almost 2,000 images of its paintings in high definition available to everyone on its website, and it allows you to take a virtual tour of the Museum before entering (you’ll find the link to the virtual tour at the end of the post).
Among the paintings you must see if you visit the museum for the first time, I suggest you some masterpieces of Italian art such as The Annunciation by Fra Angelico; The Holy Family (known as La Perla) by Raphael and also his Portrait of a Cardinal, who with his enigmatic look represent a male version of The Mona Lisa; The Dead Christ supported by an angel by Antonello da Messina; Christ washing the Disciples’ Feet by Tintoretto; Danae Receiving the Golden Rain by Titian and David and Goliath by Caravaggio.
As for Spanish, Flemish and Dutch art you can’t miss: The Triumph of Death by Brueghel; Artemis by Rembrandt; the three paintings of mythological subject by Rubens (Perseus and Andromeda; The judgement of Paris; The three Graces); Las Meninas by Velazquez; The Maja Vestida (The Clothed Maja) and The Maja Desnuda (The Nude Maja) which are the most famous paintings by Goya.
How to reach the Prado Museum
You can reach the Prado Museum using Madrid’s public transport systems:
Metro: stations Banco de España (Line 2) and Atocha (Line 1)
Bus: lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37, 45.
Museo del Prado
Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014 Madrid, Spagna