The Prado Museum in Spain
The Museo Nacional del Prado is located in Madrid, Spain and houses the best art collection in the country. It was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva and built in 1785. The Museum’s first catalogue, published in 1819, included 311 paintings and various other pictures donated by European Royalty. Some of the earliest pieces included works from Titan, Velázquez and Francesco Goya. Since most of their collection came from private owners, who often bought the majority of their paintings from the same artist, this museum is known as the museum of painters, not paintings often from the earlier periods.
More than two thousand paintings have been incorporated into the Museum del Prado since its opening, through both purchases and donations. Many of the most influential citizens of Spain have bequeathed their art collections to the museum. The collections have grown so much during the 19th and 20th century, that it was necessary for the building to undergo expansions. They built a second building, across the street, that is connected to the main building by a walkway concealed by a hedge maze.
The Prado is known for having some of the largest collections of Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya, while it does have gaps in representation from other periods. The first painter collected for the museum was Titian, a great champion of color. That was followed by a great deal of Venetian artists, since they grew in popularity at the time. It wasn’t until King Phillip IV that the museum began to acquire more non-Venetian art and attempted to fill in the gaps of what they were missing.
The Prado and its collections reflect the history of Spain, through its relationship with world art. While primarily oriented towards painting, the museum’s collections also include outstanding examples of sculpture, the decorative arts and works on paper. It has been crucial for the rediscovery of the Spanish Primitives and for positioning Velázquez as the greatest figure in Spanish art history. Its galleries have inspired generations of artists and will continue to do so for decades to come. Visit the museum’s website for more information.
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