THE AVENUE OF ART
The Avenue of Art is an itinerary, unique in the entire world, which includes
painting, sculpture, architecture and natural beauty, set in one of the most emblematic
areas of Madrid; The Paseo del Prado. This is an area which the inhabitants
of Madrid hold very dear and which they can easily explore on foot. It includes three of
the most important museums of Spain; the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza
Museum and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía National Museum. Only one place in
all the world, only the Paseo del Prado, offers, in such a short space, the
opportunity to see art works of the quality of The Meninas of Velázquez, Las
Majas of Goya, Giovanna Tornabuoni by Ghirlandajo, "Les
Vessenots" en Auvers by Van Gogh and the Guernica by Picasso,
as well as other masterpieces of world art.
During the reign of Carlos III (1759-1789), in the middle of the Enlightenment, urban
reformation was planned for what at the time was the outskirts of the city; the meadow
(Prado) of San Jerónimo. The Salón del Prado, the name given to this large reformation
project, covered the river bed which crossed the meadow, transforming this area, thickly
covered with trees, into a park with gardens and fountains. Cibeles, Apollo
and the Four Seasons and Neptune, constructed by the architect Ventura
Rodríguez, are still with us today. Between two palaces on either side, the Museum of
Natural History (today the principal building of the Prado), the Botanical Garden,
and the Astronomical Observatory were built. All were designed by another one of
the King's great architects; Juan de Villanueva.
One of the itineraries for the visitor to Madrid is the artistic triangle centered around
the Paseo del Prado. It offers the opportunity to enjoy art history and some of the city's
The Prado National Museum contains the world's best collection of Spanish painting,
that is, of recognized geniuses of world art such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya. Also
represented are the great artists of the Siglo de Oro (Golden Century); Ribera, Zurbarán
and Murillo. The Prado contains some of the best Flemish paintings, such as works by Van
der Weyden and Hieronymous Bosch, as well as Italian art, including the most complete
collection of Titian and other painters of the Venice School contained in a single museum.
And the collections of German, French and English art, although smaller than the others,
contain first-class works.
Since its establishment, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has provided a perfect
complement to the Prado. What is missing in the Prado, is splendidly represented at the
Thyssen. This special relationship begins with the Italian primitives, of which the Prado
offers Fra Angelico's masterpiece, Assumption. The Thyssen, on the other
hand, contains a numerous and important collection from this period.
The new museum also has excellent samples of the German Renaissance and Dutch painting of
the 17th century, of which the Prado contains few works, and 19th century American
painting, virtually non-existent in Spain.
Impressionism, the beginning of modern painting, previously absent from Spanish museums,
as well as German expressionism, Russian Constructivism, Geometric Abstraction and Pop
Art, are all part of the Thyssen Collection and add a wonderful new section to the Avenue
of Art. The itinerary closes with the masterpiece of our century: Picasso's Guernica,
the centerpiece of the 20th century art collection exhibited at the Centro de Arte
Reina Sofía National Museum. The collection is made up primarily of Spanish painting
and sculpture; Picasso, Juan Gris, Miró, Dalí, Chillida and Tapies as well as more
recent artists. Without a doubt, this Avenue is unique in all the world.
Prado Museum - Museo del Prado
Important painters of world art such as El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez,
Murillo, Goya, Van der Weyden, Hieronymous Bosch, Titian and Rubens are
represented in the collection of the Prado Museum, widely considered one of the world's
richest in quality and variety of paintings.
Isabel de Braganza, the wife of Fernando VII, was the patron of the museum and is
commemorated by a statue by Álvarez Cubero exhibited within the Prado.
In addition, a portrait by Bernardo López shows the museum's patron pointing to the
building, surrounded by building plans (in the Casón del Buen Retiro). The building was
originally designed by Carlos III and his architect, Juan de Villanueva, as the Museum of
Natural History and Academy of the Sciences in 1785. The Queen initiated the renovation of
the structure for its new purpose but died before it was inaugurated as the Royal Museum
of Painting and Sculpture in 1819.
The Spanish monarchs, especially Carlos V, Felipe II and Felipe IV, were great art
collections. The first works exhibited in the museum were from the Royal Collections of
the 16th-19th centuries, In 1870, the collection of the Trinidad Museum was transferred to
the Prado. Later donations and acquisitions enormously enriched the collection which today
includes painting from the 11th-19th centuries, classic and modern sculpture, drawings and
decorative arts. The Prado museum contains, in the building designed by Villanueva, the
world's most complete collection of Spanish painting from the 11th-18th centuries.
Painting and sculptures of the 19th century are exhibited in the Casón del Buen Retiro,
the annex of the Prado Museum.
The oldest art works provide the visitor with an invaluable introduction to Spanish art
before entering the halls of El Greco, Velázquez and Goya. The museum contains works from
the Romanesque period such as the Frescoes of San Baudelio de Berianga, from the
province of Soria, and the Frescoes of Santa Cruz de Maderuelo, from the province
of Segovia. And it exhibits works from the Gothic period, such as Christ Blessing,
by Fernando Gallego, and Santo Domingo de Silos, by Bartolomé Bermejo as
well as the Leonardo da Vinci style of the Renaissance work, Santa Catalina, by
Yáñez de la Almedina.
The Crete-born painter who settled in Toledo, El Greco, shows the influence of
Michaelangelo in his work, The Trinity. The maturity of his The Adoration of the
Pastors condenses the mastery and the particular style of the painter; tall, extended
figures and strong contrasts of lighting. Among the portraits, the most important and
representative is The Knight with a Hand on his Chest ("El Caballero de la
mano en el pecho").
The 17th century is called Siglo de Oro because of the flourishing of the arts
which took place during this period. The Prado Museum contains a good collection of the
period's painting, awarding the place of honor to Velázquez. Born in Seville, he arrived
in Madrid in 1622 and the following year was named Royal Painter by Felipe IV, post which he
held until his death. Of the over 100 paintings of this artist, the Prado possesses 51,
including his masterpieces; Las Meninas and Las Hilanderas. These are mature
works in which Velázquez makes atmosphere the protagonist of his compositions. The
Forge of Vulcan, Las Lanzas (The Surrender of Breda) and Christ Crucified,
introduce the extraordinary collection which can be seen in the museum and covers
different periods and theme portraits, religion, mythology, history and landscapes.
The museum has numerous works of other great painters of the Siglo de Oro such as Ribalta,
Ribera (called the "Spagnoletto"), Zurbarán and Murillo.
Goya, a genius and international figure like Velázquez as well as the Royal Painter
of Carlos IV, is also represented at the Prado in all his periods and facets. He was a
cultured man and trustworthy chronicler of the crucial period of Spanish history in which
he lived. His tremendous creative capacity and continual evolution illustrated a unique
style which later served as a basis for many artistic forms of the 19th and 20th
Goya's style was cheerful and colorful in his cartoons for tapestries based on popular
subjects: The Parasol, The Flowers or The Spring and La Maja y los embozados.
His art evolved continually until reaching the period, when, as an old man, he painted the
Black Paintings of the Quinta del Sordo such as Aquelarre or Saturn
Devouring His Son.
In his numerous portraits the artist represented the personality of the subjects and his
liking or disliking of them. The Family of Carlos IV or The Dukes of Osuna and
their Children show a special affection for the children. Las Majas, clothed
and naked, on which centuries of speculations have not managed to uncover the identity of
the model, are perhaps his most famous works.
The 2nd of May of 1808 in Madrid: the Fight with the Mamelukes and The 3rd of May of 1808
in Madrid: the Executions on the Príncipe Pío Mountain, are landmarks of art history for
the dramatic nature of the events which Goya captured with such vividness. Some of the
best paintings of the museum are the work of Flemish artists: The Descent
from the Cross, by Van der Weyden, a paradigm of the primitive artists of the
15th century, as well as Pity and The Virgin with Child. The Garden of Delights and
the Hay Cart, top off the list of works by Hieronymous Bosch.
The Pass of the Styx stands out among the work of Patinir, the first artist to
concentrate an landscapes in his compositions. And The Triumph of Death is a mature
work and masterpiece at the artist, Brueghel the Elder.
The Three Graces by Rubens heads the excellent and numerous collection of the
most representative Flemish painter of the 18th century. An important collection of Van
Dyck and of high quality still lifes, flowers and landscapes, justify the classification
of the Flemish painting of the Prado as among the best in the world.
In terms of Italian painting, the Prado boasts The Assumption by Fra Angelico, the
Boticelli series Tale of Nastagio degli Honesti, the Dead Christ by Messina and The Death
of the Virgin by Mantegna. Paintings of the 16th century include The Portrait of a
Cardinal and The Sacred Family of the Lamb by Raphael, as well as works by Andrea del
Sarto (Lucrecia di Baccio) and Correggio. Titian and the Venetian School stand out among
the Italians and the Prado's collection of their work is considered the most valuable
contained in any museum. The paintings by Titian include Carlos V in the Battle of
Muhlberg, The Empress Isabel of Portugal, Danae Receiving Golden Rain, The Bachanal,
Offering to Venus, Venus and Adonis and the Self-Portrait. The works of Tintoretto include
The Lavatory, and those of Veronese, Venus and Adonis and Moses Saved from the Waters of
the Nile. From the Naples school, the Museum possesses The Dream of Salomon by Giordano,
and from the 18th century, The Immaculate Conception by Tiepolo.
The interesting collection of French painting includes The Parnassus by Poussin,
Embarkment at Ostila by Sant Paula by Claude Lorraine and Party in a Park by Watteau
as well as other painters of the 17th and 18th centuries. It has recently been
expanded with The Panpipe Player by De la Tour. At the head of the Dutch
works, is one of the masterpieces of Rembrandt, Artemis, together with still lifes
and landscapes representative of Dutch art, which developed its own style, differentiating
itself from Flemish art at the end of the 16th century.
The canvasses of Adam and Eve, the Self-portrait of Durer and a
series of portraits by Mengs, make up the collection of German painting, Mengs was
the Royal Painter of Carlos III, the first to suggest to the King the creation of a museum
open to the public. He is the author of a delicate portrait of María Luisa de parma,
Hapsburg Princess. The museum also contains important works of the 18th and 19th
centuries (Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney and Lawrence).
Some 700 sculptures, a collection begun at the behest of Felipe II, complement the
exceptional collection of paintings. The collection runs from the ancient period
(Sumerian, Egyptian, Ancient and Classic Greek and Roman) to the 19th century.
The classical sculpture includes important pieces such as The Venus of Madrid and The
Venus of the Conch. The collection of Queen Christine of Sweden, The Saint
Ildefonso Group, is the most valuable of the museum. It was acquired by Felipe V. The
most noteworthy pieces of the Renaissance are the bronze sculptures of Leon Leoni and
Pampeo Leoni: The Emperor Carlos V and the Fury and The Empress Isabel.
The Treasure of the Dauphin which Felipe V inherited from Louis XIV is made up of opulent
carved glasses, silverware, jewels and other pieces, such as an onyx salt shaker with a
golden mermaid. It also contains furniture, stamps, enamelware and gold and silverware
which beautify the decorative arts collection of the Prado Museum.
El Casón del Buen Retiro (CURRENTLY CLOSED)
The Casón del Buen Retiro was the Dance Hall of the palace built by Felipe IV. Luca
Giordano painted the frescoes of the principal hall of the Casón.
The collection includes some magnificent portraits by Vicente López, such as María
Cristina de Borbón, Isabel de Braganza and Fernando VII, although perhaps the
best work is that of Goya, which overlooks the hall. Also noteworthy is The
Death of Viriato by José de Madrazo, Las Presidentas, by Eugenio Lucas, similar
to the Majas of Goya. Alenza painted La Azotaina, and Esquivel, the
famous The Contemporary Poets.Federico de Madrazo is the author of one of the most
important portraits of the entire 19th century, that of The Countess of Vilches. The most
famous painting of Rosales, The Will of Isabel the Catholic, and of Fortuny, The Children
of the Painter in the Japanese Hall, are exhibited at the Casón. Also present are one of
the first paintings of Sorolla, They Still Say that Fish is Expensive, as well as his
magnificent Children of the Beach.
The landscapes of Carlos de Haes include The Picos de Europa. Also housed at the Casón
are Winter Landscape by Beruete, The Vine, by Regoyos, Aranjuez Garden, by Rusiñol,
Moguda Waters by Joaquín Mir and Houses of Segovia, by Zuloaga.
Useful Info: Prado & Casón del Buen Retiro
Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014 Madrid
Telephone: 34 91 330 28 00 Fax: 34 91 330 28 56
OPEN: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
OPEN: Holidays, 24th and 31st December: 9:00-2:00pm
CLOSED: Mondays, 1st January, 1st May, 25th December, Easter Friday
(Last admission 30 minutes before closing time. Galleries emptied 10 minutes before closing time)
Tickets & Entry
6 Euros general public, 3 Euros for students from non-EU countries aged under 25
Free Entrance for Visitors under 18 years, over 65, retired or permanently disabled, Unemployed visitors from EU countries, Students from EU countries aged under 25, Staff of Spanish State Museums run by the Ministry of Culture, National and local tourist guides, Teachers whose subjects are directly related to the contents of the Museum and who are engaged in teaching during the visit
Free entry days:
Sundays (9am to 7pm)
12 October (Hispanidad Day)
6 December (Constitution Day)
2 May (Official Day, Region of Madrid)
18 May (International Museums Day)
Tuedays 1pm and 5.30pm
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9am to 5.30pm
Tel.: 00 34 91 330 28 25 & 00 34 91 330 28 31
Fax: 00 34 91 330 28 59
Educational Group Schedule In Advance:
Information and reservations telephone number: (91) 330 29 00
Hours: from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sundays and holidays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
GALLERY CLOSURES (updated January 30, 2005):
Galleries 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84, as well as the Drawings Room, all located on the second floor of the north wing of the building, are currently closed due to work on the expansion of the Museo Nacional del Prado.
Metro: Banco de España and Atocha stations
Buses: Lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37 and 45
By rail: Atocha Station
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