What is the Prado Museum?
The Museo del Prado is one of the richest and most important museums in the world, containing some 3,000 paintings. The Prado is recognized as the most important of the art galleries in Spain and amongst the 3 to 5 more important art museums in the world.
The gallery’s main treasure consists of its collection of paintings of the Spanish School, whose development stretches from the 15C to Goya.
Short history of the museum del Prado
The museum was built in 1785 under Charles III in classical style by famous architect Juan de Villanueva; originally intended as a natural history museum. The original ambition was to make this part of Madrid a dedicated area for sciences, with the Botanical gardens right next to the Prado as part of this.
But plans changed and the building was devoted to art. Fortunately, the botanical gardens remain where next to it and are a great visit to be enjoyed right after or before a visit to the Prado museum.
Granite and brick were the building materials used for the building. Construction was completed in 1819 under King Ferdinand VII, and it was then that it became a museum of painting
Major schools and artists represented in the Prado museum
The Prado is home to some of Spain´s most important painters. Names include Jose Ribera with about 60 paintings. El Greco with 34 (the large religious canvases.
The Prado has about 50 works by Diego Velázquez, including such famous paintings:
- Meninas (The Ladies of the Court)
- Las Hilanderas (The Spinners)
- La Rendición de Breda (The Surrender of Breda)
- The Equestrian portrait of Don Baltasar Carlos
There are also numerous paintings by Murillo, including La Immaculada Concepción de Soult in Room XXVIII.
The Prado has about 120 paintings by Goya, the best of his portraits being found here, including the Maja Vestida, the Maja Desnuda, and the Family of Charles IV. Goya’s well-known tapestry designs are housed also at the Prado and you will also find here has the famous painting Tres de Mayo 1808 (Shoot-
g of Insurgents). The Pinturas Negras (black paintings) are well-represented with an extensive collection of drawings by the artist.
From the Italian School of the 15C there are paintings by Fra Angélico (Annunciation) , by Mantegna (Death of the Virgin) and by Antonello da Messina (Body of Christ). There are 8 paintings by Raphael, including the Madonna with the Fish and a portrait of a cardinal.
The Venetian School is represented by Giorgione, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese and both Tiepolos. There are about 40 paintings by Titian, including the equestrian portrait of Charles V, the portraits of Charles V and Philip II, Venus and Adonis and Danae.
The early Dutch School is represented too and paintings include Bosch’s most famous work, the triptych The Garden of Delights.
The German School is represented by Albrecht Dürer’s famous works: Self-portrait, Adam and Eve, Portrait of an Unknown, Man and also by the paintings of Lucas Cranach and Hans Baldung.
The Flemish School is represented by 86 paintings, including the work of Rubens, for example, such beautiful later works as the Three Graces and the Garden of Love and Peasant Dance.
Of the 20 paintings by Anton van Dyke two of his most beautiful, Arrest of Christ and The Brazen Serpent are at the Prado. Jakob Jordaen’s Family Portrait is one of the artist’s best works. Jan Breughel is also represented by several works..
The Prado has one of Rembrandt‘s best-known pictures, Queen Artemisia.
The French School of the 17&18C is represented by paintings of Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, J.A. Watteau and others.
Representing the English School are paintings by Thomas Lawrence, Gainsborough, Henry Raeburn and George Romney.
There is also a collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman sculptures, as well as a collection of jewellery and objets d’art, the Tresoro del Delfín.