Spanish version


Prado

Prado MuseumThe Prado Museum was built during the reign of Carlos III. When he returned to Spain to become king, after havingMaria Isabel de Braganza lived in Naples, he thought that Madrid had to improve. It was still like a little village although it had grown since becoming the capital of the nation, but in a quite chaotic way.

Carlos III wanted to create an area dedicated to art. This area was to be on the meadow -prado- belonging to the Church of San Jeronimo el Real. The church is behind the Prado Museum. Along this stretch we can find the Cibeles fountain, the Apollo Statue and the Neptune fountain. Also many impressive buildings dedicated to science were built. This was one of the aims of the predominant ideology of the time, the Enlightenment.

Carlos III commisioned the architect Juan de Villanueva with these projects. So he built the Prado Museum (originally intented to be a Natural History Museum), the Rubens-The Three Graces-Prado MuseumBotanical Gardens and the Observatory. The work on the building was interrupted after Carlos III´s death. During the War of Independence it was used as a headquarters for Napoleon´s troops and consequently damaged. Afterwards many building materials were stolen by the inhabitants in order to rebuild their destroyed houses. After Carlos IV´s reign, Jose I, Napoleon´s brother, wanted to house a museum with paintings in the Palacio de Buenavista. It was going to be called the Josephine Museum. But when Fernando VII returned he decided to put the paintings of the royal collection in the Prado building. His second wife, Maria Isabel de Braganza, was very interested in the building of the Museum and she is considered its founder. So the work continued and finally Villanueva´s project was finished.

From the very beginning the museum proved to be too small for all the paintings it hadDürer-Selfportrait-Prado Museum to house.

The collection it contains covers paintings from the 12th century to Goya (19th century). Therefore the most popular paintings are those of El Greco, Ribera, Murillo, the Italian painters Mantegna, Boticelli, Tiepolo and Raphael. Also the Flemish and Dutch painting collection is quite relevant -Memling, Bosch, Brueghel, van Dyck or Rubens, and the German paintings by Dürer and Cranach.

VelazquezVelazquez and Goya have to be mentioned separately.

The works lasted 10 years and afterwards 5 more were needed to decorate the interior.

In 1918 a first enlargement of the Museum took place. The second one in 1950 and a third one in the 60´s. In 1971 the Cason del Buen Retiro was incorporated and from 1985 to 1989 the Palacio de Villahermosa, now the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum.

A new enlargement has recently been made by the architect Rafael Moneo, adding nearly 23.000 m of the cloister belonging to the Jeronimos church.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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