I’m not dead, I promise! I have just been too busy in Madrid, using all my free time to visit all the wonderful things this visit has to offer: including, of course, El Museo del Prado. Most of you will probably know it as the place where the works of Goya, Velázquez, Tizziano, Rubens, El Bosco, and so many other geniuses, are kept.
Some years ago, while I was still in high school, I was invited every year to the baccalaureate’s school trip to Madrid’s museums, even if I was too young to come. For three years, and around the same dates, I went on a trip through el Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofía, the Thyssen, and Madrid’s Archaeological Museum. I am very grateful to my teachers for taking me along, since these visits make me learn a lot and helped me become a better artist myself.
The funny thing is, even though it has been almost 10 years since my last visit, I could still remember everything: where to find El Bosco, where the circular room with Las Meninas was, the particular galleries where Tizziano’s paintings were exhibited. It was a heartwarming experience.
Let me tell you about my favourite paintings!
There is, of course, El Bosco’s El Jardín de las Delicias (c. 1500-1505), represented on the header to this post. This is a tryptic that, when closed, looks like the picture above: this represents the third day of the creation of the world. When open, we can see Paradise, to the left; the world riddled by sin, in the middle; and Hell, to the right. The kinds of punishments that the sinners suffer in the last image is so gruesome that it shocks its viewers even today!
Who has never seen Las Meninas (1656), by Diego Velázquez? This painting has become so famous because of its multi-layered structure: at the very back there is José Nieto Velázquez, standing in the doorway; then there is the mirror, where the monarchs King Felipe IV and Mariana of Austria are reflected. After that we see Velázquez himself—who, funnily enough, is painting the monarchs, not Las Meninas! And then, of course, there the girls after which the painting is named: Princess Margarita and her servants, including one of the few and rare depictions of a dwarf—which was one of Velázquez’s trade marks.
Take also a look at the use of light and shades. there are so many different focuses of light (the window, the open door), separated by so many layers of shade, that the result is an extremely complex painting that has rightfully gone down as one of the world’s masterpieces.
Rubens’s Dance of the Villagers (1635) is a colourful, beautiful depiction of rural life. It has underlying mythological themes in that it is reminiscent of bacchanals, particularly because of the presence of music and very lively dancing. I just really like how colourful and happy it is!
Saturn Devouring His Son (c. 1819-1823), by Goya, is a gruesome depiction of one of the darkest episodes in Greek Mythology. It is one of Goya’s black paintings which he painted on the walls of his house when his fear of insanity and disillusionment with humanity were growing. All of them are haunting and gruesome, but I think this one exemplifies his style in this period of his life best.
Those are just some of the paintings I love the most—maybe at some point I will go on telling you about more of them, if you like it! And if you ever have the chance to go to El Museo del Prado, please do—you will absolutely love it!