The Prado Museum holds one of the largest collections of European art in the world. Though most of the museum is naturally devoted to Spanish art, there are other sections that showcase German, French, Flemish, Italian, British, and Dutch artists as well. A regular adult ticket is €14 (~$14.79 USD), but I also opted for an audioguide for €5 (~$5.28 USD) that covered both the permanent and temporary exhibitions.
To be honest, I didn’t really care for this museum that much since I wasn’t very interested in the painting styles that were represented. Plus, I thought that the price was too expensive, though if you are under 18 or a student under 25, you can get in for free. I am still glad that I went and I did see art that I liked, but I am not sure if I would ever feel compelled to return.
Here are a few of the paintings that I thought were worth mentioning. Photos aren’t allowed, so these were all taken from Wikipedia or the Prado website.
- “Vulcan’s Forge” by Diego Velázquez, circa 1630 – Velázquez is one of the most renowned Spanish painters. In this painting, Velázquez takes a scene out of Roman mythology in which Vulcan is warned by Roman god Apollo that his wife has been cheating on him. Vulcan was the god of fire and metalworking and he was married to Venus, god of love. According to the myth, Venus was having an affair with Mars, the god of war.
- “Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, Clothed” by Juan Carreño de Miranda, circa 1680 – A section of the Prado focused on paintings of people with physical anomalies such as dwarfism. One of the paintings in this section was of Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, a little girl who was actually brought to King Carlos II’s court for a portrait because of her size. Why does the painting’s title have to point out that she is clothed? Well, oddly enough, there is a companion painting in which the little girl is naked. Well then.
- “Saint Bernard and the Virgin” by Alonso Cano, seventeenth century – Oh, I felt the need to include this one because it is just so strange. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was a French abbot who was said to have received a stream of milk from the teat of as Virgin Mary statue. This isn’t the only painting depicting this scene and not the only painting in the Prado featuring this sort of lactation. I know it is supposed to be a miracle and all, but I don’t know how I would feel if this ended up being a big part of my legacy.
- “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch, 1500 to 1505 – A triptych is a work of art that is divided into three sections. This painting depicts paradise on the left, hell on the right, and a cesspool of pleasure in the center. I think it is supposed to comment on how moral decay leads to a person’s demise and the images range from standard to incredibly disturbing.
- “The Family of Carlos IV” by Francisco Goya, 1800 – Goya is another one of Spain’s most famous painters, so I figured at least one of his paintings should be on this list. This one depicts the family of King Carlos IV, though you probably gathered that from the title.
- “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez, circa 1656 – Las Meninas is probably the most famous painting in the museum’s collection and it is known as the Solemn Painting in the Animal Crossing series. The focus of the painting is Infanta Margaret Theresa, the daughter of King Philip IV, but other real people make an appearance as well, including the Infanta’s maids, two dwarves, and Velázquez himself. On the wall in the background, there is a mirror that reflects the image of the king and queen, similar to the technique used by Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck in “The Arnolfini Portrait”. The Infanta was only five-years old when Las Meninas was painted.
- Copy of “La Gioconda”, 1503 to 1519 – The Prado has its own Mona Lisa, though it was made by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s students and not by the famous artist himself. It is the oldest known copy of the Mona Lisa and had undergone a restoration process in the past few years.
Even though I didn’t love the art, the collection is still pretty impressive and I’d recommend it if you are particularly interested in art history since Velázquez and Goya are known for being some of the greats.