The Prado Museum in delicious and majestic Madrid, Spain has an undoubtedly world-class collection of highlights of European art. These works of art provide a unique overview of Spain’s rich history, from its golden age to its slow extinction as her empire was broken up by revolution or by new, younger, stronger imperial forces. Highlights of Prado Art Museum in Madrid are quite diverse. Don’t forget Spain once controlled near half of western Europe.
While Prado is full of masterpieces, there are a few artists and periods that really stand out. Without further ado, here are the highlights of the Prado that no self-respecting art lover should miss.
First, the Prado is the place to enjoy the great Spanish artist Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas, considered by some to be the best painting in the world. The other Spanish master is, without doubt, Francisco de Goya. You can follow this complex man through the stages of his life, from dutiful palace painter to political revolutionary and scandal-monger to the frustrated genius of his ‘black paintings’.
The joys of the Prado museum are not only the Spanish works, you’ll find paintings by Italian and Flemish masters, including Hieronymus Bosch’s fantastic triptych, the Garden of Earthly Delights. This is for many art experts, not just one of Prado’s masterpieces – it is, in fact, one of the most impressive works of art in the world. Now see more detail below on the top artist of Prado.
No museum nor private collection in the world can hold a candle to Prado’s collection of Velazquez’s major paintings. Widely regarded by some as the most important Spanish painter of all time along with Pablo Picasso, Velazquez (like Picasso) was a native of southern Spain’s exotic Andalucia region. The Seville master changed painting forever with his revolutionary approach to realism.
Velazquez was highly unique for his time. This is because he rarely sketched or prepared preparatory works. Co
So his paintings have an impressionistic casual charm. This confident intimacy has inspired generations of artists and art lovers with no art talent like the writer and founder of our agency :-).
Drawing on influences from Italian and Flemish art, as well as his native Sevilla, Velazquez was unique. He created something truly original, making him one of Prado’s undoubted masterpieces.
“Las Meninas” is the top painting by Diego Velazquez. It shows the Spanish royal family in the 17th century.
At first, it appears to be a portrait of Princess Margaret and her maids, but a closer look reveals an elaborate scene involving Velázquez himself, the king and queen, and a mirror. We won’t reveal too much: certainly, discover for yourself what’s going on, it’s certainly part of what has fascinated visitors to Prado for centuries!
Don’t miss Las Meninas, The Tradition in Brenda, The Triumph of Bacchus, Apollo on Vulcan Hill, Christ Crucified, Las Hilande.
Francisco de Goya
His full name was Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. Surprisingly he came from a humble family in a small village in rural northern Spain’s, Aragon region. Despite those obstacles, Goya had both talent and drive to become the most important Spanish artist of his generation. He rose to the top and was chosen by the Royal Family to be the court painter. He became it seems disgusted with the Royal style of richness while so many common people in Spain (and Europe) barely had enough to eat. You’ll see the subtle ridicule of the arrogant royal subjects as his art progressed. Later he lost everything and survived the last years of exile. No other painter has so many works represented in Prado.
Goya’s art progression from his early portraits, bright and vibrant, to the dark intensity of his final works is one of our favorite highlights in Prado.
Not to be missed: The Family of Charles IV, La Maja Desnuda and La Maja Vestida, second and third May 1808, Black Paintings,
The main work: For some experts, nothing better than the Black Panels. Painted at the end of Goya’s life directly on the walls of his house on the outskirts of Madrid, they reveal the inner life of an artist who had become disillusioned with politics and society, who had lost his health (and perhaps his mind) and was facing his own mortality. In this context, these are dark, twisted scenes that stay with you long after you leave the museum.
Rubens, Rembrandt and Hieronymus Bosch
For centuries, the lands that now are Belgium and the Netherlands were part of the Spanish Habsburg Empire. For this reason, Prado has one of the best collections of Flemish art in the world.
From the greatest collections of Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch to the great works of van der Weyden and Rembrandt, discovering these masters of the North is undoubtedly one of the real joys of a visit to discover the Prado Museum Madrid highlights.
Don’t miss the Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. is not just one of Prado’s masterpieces – it is, in fact, one of the most impressive works of art in the world. The enigmatic depiction of giant birds, people in bubbles, strange structures straight out of a sci-fi movie and the like is truly stunning. Want to know a surprising bit of Spanish art history?…. Well here King Charles V’s son, the great King Philip II LOVED the work and ideas of Hieronymus Bosch. That’s why Spain is the country with the largest number of works by Hieronymus Bosch.
OK, this post is meant to be a quick and incomplete guide. Our private tours of Spain are much more in-depth but based only on your interest. In Madrid you might hear an old saying… “you go to the Prado twice in your lifetime. The first is holding your father’s hand. The second is when you go with your grandson”. Actually, though Spain is quite diverse and some Spaniards I know have been dozens of times to the amazing Prado! See more on the Prado here.
We are now getting very busy again with private tours of Spain and Portugal. So I must get back to work crafting expertly-made private Spain and Portugal private luxury adventures. If you deserve a vacation of a lifetime, see our customer’s favorite private Spain tour itineraries here. These are all customized to fit our guest taste for fine food, culture, wellness, sport, Highlights Prado Museum Madrid or anything in Iberia really contact us.