There is a very popular boulevard at Madrid, called Paseo del Prado. This is one of my favorites avenues, not only because it beauty itself but because of cultural load that is in it. Along this boulevard, we can find three of the most important museums in Madrid: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; and people call this set of museums as El Triángulo del Arte (Art Triangle).
Museo del Prado
I believe El Prado is the most iconic museum in Madrid. Even though I prefer work art from Centro de Arte Reina Ana Sofia, El Prado itself is simply sublime. First of all, all the art work exposed there: Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, Ruben… walking around all this paintings and sculptures is like walking through Spain’s history. Second, architecturally, El Prado is really beautiful… of course I know nothing about architecture, but I love the style of that building, because, from my non-architectural point of view, its simple but really elegant…. like a really nice cake without a lot of frosting. I believe this sensation is because the building is catalogued as Neoclassic.
The original vision of El Prado was from architect Villanueva, but the building has been architecturally intervened by several persons, more than 20. The last intervention was from Rafael Moneo, who added new volume of red brick and granite surrounded by a Boj garden that gives you the feeling of a XVIII century garden.
This expansion was constructed on the plot of St. Jerome cloister, and part of the project was to add a room at the top of the cube with restored frames of St. Jeromes cloister so that light could enter and enlighten on a natural way al the sculptures in it. So, when you walk through Calle de Ruiz Alarcón, you can see this extraordinary contrast: a 2000 construction that can perfectly stand adjacently a 1500 construction; it is an amazing example of human action throughout time.
I downloaded this last two photos from Imagen Subliminal. It’s from the construction time. Amazing!
And this is my favorite spot in Madrid: between the Boj Gardens and Moneo’s expansion of the museum. I love this place because it is really calm and quite, even it is a touristic place. Every time I am in here, there is a man playing the guitar (classical Spanish guitar) near the entrance of the museum which I don’t know if its a coincidence of is his job, but definitely that guitar men give my “special moment” a nice soundtrack.
Although I prefer modern paintings, It its through portraits that we can have a look back at history in times where no photography was possible. Diego Velázquez was, without a doubt, one of the most important painters of all times in Spain. He was a portrait artist from the Baroque period; he was the leading artist of the court of Rey Felipe IV, he painted several portraits of the royal family. His most famous and recognized works is Las Meninas (1956) located at Museo del Prado.
This scene takes place at the Real Alcázar a Madrid, and old construction that later was replaced with El Palacio Real. The painting shows Infant Margaret Theresa, daughter of King Felipe IV and his second wife Mariana de Austria. She was betrothet to her uncle Leopoldo I when she was just a child, for political purposes. She married him when she was 15 years old. She had for children, but only one of them survived: Maria Antonieta de Austria. Margarita Theresa died at the age of 21 (what a sad life 😦 ).
Portraits were really important at this time, in which arranged betrothal was something extremely common. So, kings and queens used to send portraits of their infants daughters as “bussines cards” to other kings and queens with similar power and influence, and this is how they started to arrange marriages. Sometimes is delusional how Royalty lived back then; it intrigues me so much! Velazquez painted various portraits that later were sent to other courts. For example, this portrait of infant Margarita, showing her at three years old. This portrait was send to Viena’s court.
In my next post I’ll write about the other two museums missing from the Art’s Triangle. If you ever visit Madrid, I highly recommend to visit this museum! They are really attentive to visitors. If you are student from the EU, you won’t have to pay any fee, students from outside the EU can pay a reduced fee and every day you have free access to the museum from 18.00 to 20.00 hours. Hope you enjoy it 🙂 !
Museo del Prado (2016). La Colección: Las Meninas. https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/obra-de-arte/las-meninas/9fdc7800-9ade-48b0-ab8b-edee94ea877f
Museo del Prado (2016). Cronología del Museo. https://www.museodelprado.es/aprende/enciclopedia
El País (n.d.). La Ampliación del Museo del Prado. http://people.seas.harvard.edu/~jones/lab_arch/moneo/prado/prado_plan.html
Sánchez J.C. (2007). Ampliación del Museo del Prado, El cubo de Moneo. http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2007/graficos/oct/s4/cubo.html
Morphopedia. (2009). Museo del Prado Competition. http://morphopedia.com/projects/museo-del-prado-competition
Imagen Subliminal. (2005). Expansion of Museo del Prado. http://imagensubliminal.com/ampliacion-del-museo-del-prado/?lang=en