Museo del Prado, Madrid. One of
the top art museums in Europe.
Museo del Prado, Madrid
One of the world's best art museums, the Museo del Prado -the Spanish national museum of art in Madrid - houses the world's finest collection of Spanish painting, exemplified by Spanish Baroque artists such as Velazquez, El Greco, the Naples-based Jusepe Ribera, and also Francisco Goya, as well as masterpieces from other schools of European art from the 12th century to the early 19th century, such as Florentine and Venetian Renaissance art, and the Northern Renaissance in Flanders, Holland and Germany.
Although established originally as a gallery of fine art painting, the Prado (meaning 'meadow' in Spanish) also boasts important collections of drawings, prints, sculpture, coins and medals, as well as a host of decorative objects and jewellery. Modern Spanish art is covered by the Reina Sofia Madrid. and contemporary Spanish art by the Bilbao Guggenheim museum.
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Origins and History
Initially commissioned by King Charles III in 1785 as a natural science museum, the neo-classical style Prado building was designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva and eventually finished in 1819 during the reign of King Ferdinand VII who opened it to the public as the Royal Museum of Painting. In 1868 it was nationalized and renamed the National Museum of the Prado. As the collection grew, the building was enlarged a number of times, most recently in 2007 when the Rafael Moneo-designed renovation started.
During these enlargements several satellite venues were incorporated into the overall Prado complex, including: the Casón del Buen Retiro (housing 20th century art from 1971 to 1997), the Salon de Reinos, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (home to Dutch and German painting). Also in the area are two other Spanish art museums: the Museo Arqueologico (to which part of the Prado's collection of ancient and classical antiquities was relocated) and the Museo Reina Sofía (20th century works).
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Initially, the museum's fine art collection consisted of religious-oriented Renaissance, and Spanish Baroque paintings amassed by the Habsburg and Bourbon Kings of Spain, including Charles V (ruled 1516-56), Philp II (1556-98), Philip IV (1621-65) and Philip V (1700-46). This includes imports from the Spanish colony of Naples, exemplifying Neapolitan Baroque painting (1650-99). In the 19th century these collections were consolidated into the Prado, although latterly these have been somewhat dispersed for space reasons.
Works of Art
The Museo del Prado displays over 1,400 paintings, and its permanent collection also contains over 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 700 sculptures in stone and bronze, including an outstanding range of Greek and Roman statuary, 2,000 decorative items, 1,000 coins and medals, and almost 2,000 decorative objects.
The collection includes a host of masterpieces by Spanish painters, including:
Greco (Domenikos Theotocopoulos) (1541-1614)
Note: Ribera, Caravaggio's greatest follower, was one of the key founders of the Neapolitan School, during the first half of the 17th century. For more about his art, and that of Caravaggio and others - much of which has ended up in the Prado, see: Painting in Naples (1600-1700) and for more detail, see: Neapolitan School of Painting (c.1600-56).
Pablo Picasso's black & white masterpiece, Guernica (1937), was housed in the Prado after its return to Spain, but in 1992 was moved to the nearby Museo Reina Sofía.
The Prado contains some of the greatest Renaissance paintings, including numerous works by Spanish Renaissance artists and others from the Early Renaissance, the High Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance, such as: Andrea Mantegna, Artemisia Gentileschi, Sandro Botticelli, Veronese, Antonello da Messina, Raphael, including masterpices such as:
The Annunciation (1430-1432) by
The museum's collection of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical painting includes works by Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Gellee, to name but a few, and the English portraitist Thomas Gainsborough.