Luxury world travelers often know that the Prado Museum, in the center of majestic Madrid, Spain, has a world-class collection of European art highlights. These works of art provide a unique overview of Spain’s rich history, from its golden age as arguably the first European world superpower… to its slow decline as the Spanish empire declined due to poor strategic planning, corruption, and competing imperial forces.
Among the remaining benefits of the riches of the empire are the highlights of Prado Art Museum in Madrid, which are both quite diverse and quite extensive. Don’t forget Spain once controlled nearly half of Western Europe and had colonial holdings from California to Chile and from Argentina to Florida and beyond including bits of Africa and Asia.
Highlights of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.
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 work of the great Spanish artist, Diego Velazquez. His work, Las Meninas, is considered by some to be the best painting in the world.
The other Spanish master is, without a 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’. These changing styles seems to be related to Goya’s own situation, his health and the ups and downs of life in Spain for the common people.
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.
Diego Velazquez – Highlights of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.
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 because he rarely sketched or prepared preparatory works.
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 and others. The Prado’s collection of Velazquez’s major paintings is regarded as the best in the art world.
Francisco de Goya – Highlights of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain
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 – International Highlights of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain
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.
In closing, this post – Highlights of the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain is meant to be a quick and incomplete guide. Our private tours of Spain are much more targeted based only on your interest. We often find doing the top 10 favorites of our top expert art historian guides is fascinating and allows the guides personal passions to be unleashed. Ready to make your dream luxury trip to Spain or Portugal a reality?… Contact Us now.
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.
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