Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Museo del Prado

Madrid is home to the Prado Museum, which is one of world's finest collections of European art and according to Wikipedia, "unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art."  Thanks to my Madrid guide book, I learned that entrance to the museum is free from 6 - 8 during the week and all day on Sundays.  A couple of Sundays ago, Luke and I headed over to take advantage of the free entry but found a line that looked like this:

When it became quite obvious that all these people were waiting to enter the museum in a line that appeared to wrap all the way around the huge building, we quickly decided that we'd rather pay 12 euros than stand there for hours and then have to fight the crowds once inside as well.  However, since Luke has been working late this week (until 2 am last night :( ), I decided to try the free entry once again on my own this time.  I left my apartment around 5:30, stopped for a coffee on a shady terrace along the way, and got to the museum just after 6.  Much to my surprise, there was no line at all!

Once inside, it was a bit overwhelming because the museum is massive with long hallways and room after room after room.  I grabbed a map of the museum and started wandering along.  Because I'm not a true art lover, I was trying really hard to make myself take my time, read the plaques alongside the paintings and try to learn something.  However, I quickly realized that I'd be there until Christmas (and bored to death) if I continued with my plan.  I took a better look at my map and realized there was a section called Masterpieces that had a small picture and location of each of the Collection's best known works.  So I decided to try and see as many of the masterpieces that I could in the remaining 1.5 hours and just glance at all the other pieces as I walked along.   Plan B worked much better! I saw roughly half of the masterpieces before they began ushering people towards the entrance, and I would even say that I enjoyed it! 

The collection's masterpieces featured works by Velazquez, Zurbaran, Goya, Rubens, Rembrant and Raphael, just to name a few.  The collection's best-known work on display is Las Meninas by Velazquez.  My favorite of the masterpieces that I saw was The Three Graces by Rubens.  The accompanying plaque said that the three women were painted to represent love, beauty, sensuality and fertility and that the artist painted it in celebration of the love, happiness and pleasure that he had in his marriage.  I also really like The Naked Maja by Goya.  (And no, I'm not an 12 year old boy and don't like these simply because of the naked women. However, it was nice to see curvy women being celebrated as opposed to the emaciated bodies that we're so used to seeing in today's media.) The Naked Maja was interesting because it is hanging right next to a very similar painting of the same woman but clothed this time, so it was neat to read about the comparisons and contrasts between the two.  Also, though I didn't put it together at the time, Luke reminded me last night that "Maja" is one of the new Spanish words we've learned since being here that means cool/pretty/good looking.  When we were looking at apartments, one older lady kept referring to us as maja and majo.  Although I didn't see any signs outlawing cameras in the museum, I figured it wasn't appropriate, but here are a few images of the pieces mentioned above along with a couple more for good measure. 

The Naked Maja by Goya
Jacob's Dream by Ribera
Apparition of the Apostle St Peter to St Peter Nolasco by Zurbaran
The Three Graces by Rubens
Las Meninas by Velazquez
At some point, I plan to go back and work my way through the rest of the masterpiece's or maybe even do the guided audio tour.  There are two other renowned museums in Madrid, Museo Reina Sofia and El Muse de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza, that also offer free entry during specific times, so I'll try to hit those up at some point as well. Though I ended up really enjoying my visit, one art museum per day week is good enough for me!

No comments:

Post a Comment