The Prado

The Prado

This is undoubtably the highlight for me, so far, though a bit confusing in layout, we managed to see most of what we wanted.

The most impressive works are by Velazquez, Titian and Goya.  Las Meninas stands out, and from a distance, the infanta Marghrita seems to stand out from the canvas in a most disconcerting way.  There are also portraits including two large equestrian portraits of Philip II. Diana, you would be drooling.  Amongst the mythological paintings, one of Mercury and Argus stood out for me, particularly the rendering of Mercury’s winged helmet (or hat rather) which is so modern you could extract it as an abstract painting.  The Titian’s are incredible!  The subtlety of rendering of flesh tones and drapery and shadows is beyond belief.  My favourites are Danae, equestrian portrait of Charles V, and a version of Venus and Adonis (though it is not as brilliant, in the light sense, as I would have expected).  Interestingly, hanging side by side, are Titian’s Adam and Eve and the apple and a copy by Reubens.  This rather confirms that Reuben’s is not my favourite old master, Titian’s is more subtle, Adam’s gesture, touching Eve seems to have a psychological insight lacking in Reuben’s copy, and the background landscape mountain and clouds are more brightly coloured by Titian.

There is a huge representation of Goya, from his earliest works up to his death in 1828.  Most of the famous portraits are present including that of the Spanish Hapsburgs, as well as many amazing sketches.  Maya was well attended, desnuda more than vestuta, and they are indeed magnificent. (There is a statue outside the Prado of Goya, including a sculptural version of Maya Desnuda)  I was surprised to find that the “Collosus” painting, which is often reproduced in books or articles on Goya, is no longer attributed to him.  The Goya highlight though we’re the “black paintings” depicting horrible scenes, with grotesque characters.  Well known is Saturn devouring his children, which is quite small, but large canvases depicting the inquisition, a witches sabbath and a female version of the devil, all in subdued colours – and lots of black.

What else can I say, Heironymous Bosch, Durer self portrait, lots of Murillo, Reuben’s, Dutch masters, history paintings, very 19th century, tending to pre Raphaelite.  One painting which caught my eye was a small Tintoretto of a young woman uncovering her breasts (I don’t suppose anyone is surprised) but it is truly magical in the expression and clarity of the work.

This is just a dip into the Prado, I hope I can return some day for a longer visit.

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