Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Museo del Prado

The Spanish say the Museo del Prado, or the Prado Museum, is one of the most important repositories of art in the world.  They say, when visiting the museum, to concentrate on the 'Spanish masters', Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, and Murillo.  

After paying our 14 euros each for entry, we certainly had a reasonably good look at the first couple of masters.  Diego Velazquez, who lived from 1599 to 1660, was a bloke who liked to paint Kings and people, portraits etc.  He also liked to include dogs in his paintings.  Among the Kings he painted were Ferdinand VII of Spain.  The museum's most famous painting is Velazquez's Las Meninas, acclaimed for its use of light.  I saw the painting on a documentary not long ago, and was surprised to find it here.  It depicts members of the Spanish court during the reign of Phillip IV.  The King and Queen themselves are reflected in a mirror.  The painting, finished in 1656, is said to have anticipated the age of the camera with its snapshot look of several of those depicted in the painting.  Even Velazquez himself is in the painting with a large canvas.  

I took several photos of various works of art, and then got into trouble.  A Spanish member of staff barked "No photos!".  This came after I'd noticed a guy producing a copy of The Cardinal, which the great Raphael had completed around 1510.  I photographed the original and the reproduction.  This guy was nearly finished, and his painting looked exactly like the much older work hanging on the wall in front of him.  I whispered to him in English 'yours is better'.  He whispered back 'thank you'.

The great Italian artists have works displayed here too, Raphael, Botticelli, Mantegna, del Sarto, Fra Angelico, and Correggio.  Titian's Venus is here.  A well known 'sitter' is here too, none other than the one and only Mona Lisa.  The original by Leonardo da Vinci is in the Louvre in Paris, which we saw last week.  The one here was painted around the same time as da Vinci's, but the artist could have been one of a couple of possibilities.  Other well known artists' works are in the Prado Museum as well - Rembrandt and Gainsborough for example.

We took a Skype call from our daughter, Jess, in the museum's cafe.

The Cardinal by Raphael on the wall.  Equally good reproduction to the left
Italian artist Botticelli
I think by Botticelli
The Mona Lisa done around the same time as the original

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