On the Trail of El Greco Reply

El Greco Spain

Mary Tompkins Lewis writes for the Wall Street Journal–Spain is awash with commemorations of the fourth centenary of the death of its adopted son, Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the artist better known as El Greco. An exhibition at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, “El Greco’s Library,” on view through June 29, explores the relationship between the texts El Greco collected and his own erudite art. This summer, “El Greco and Modern Painting,” also at the Prado (from June 24 through Oct. 5), will chart the painter’s rediscovery in the 19th century and his influence on vanguard artists from Edouard Manet to Francis Bacon and beyond.



Madrid Artist Miguel Ángel Blanco Takes Prado Back to Its Origins Reply

Natural Histories PradoThe Prado Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time as the Museo Nacional de Pinturas y Esculturas [National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures] on 19 November 1819. However, the Neo-classical building designed by Juan de Villanueva that now houses the Prado was originally the home of the Natural History Collection, commissioned by Charles III in 1785. On the 194th anniversary of the Museum’s founding and to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the death of Villanueva, this project by Miguel Ángel Blanco now pays homage to the Prado’s history and to the little known origins of its building as a Natural History museum. More…

Commented Works in the Prado: “The Senses” by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder Reply

Senses Bruegel Rubens

As part of the recently closed exhibition in the Prado Museum, “Enclosed Beauty. From Fra Angelico to Fortuny,” Alejandro Vergara, the conservation chief of Flemish painting and the northern schools in the Prado, comments the five curious paintings composing “The Senses” (1617-18), painted jointly by two illustrious friends: Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, son of Pieter Bruegel. This painting (“Allegory of Sight”) was in part an homage to the Hapsburg Archdukes reigning in the Burgundian court of Flanders at the time (seen in the double portrait at the extreme left of the painting). More…

Currently in the Prado: Velazquez and the Family of Felipe IV Reply

Diego Velazquez

Not since the historic exhibition of Velazquez in 1990–which battered all Prado Museum attendance records–has there been a Velazquez show in the Prado to match the current one, running from 8 Oct. 2013 to 9 Feb. 2014. Javier Portus, chief curator of Spanish paintings at the Prado Museum, has selected 30 of the painter’s later portraits mainly of the Spanish king Felipe IV and his family for this show entitled “Velazquez and the Family of Felipe IV.”


Prado Restores Goya Drawings Reply

A Peek Inside the Prado Museum’s Paper Restoration Workshop

Goya Aun AprendoJose Manuel Matilla, chief of the Prado’s department of drawings and prints, gives us some insight into the restoration of Francisco de Goya’s “Caprichos amarillos” (a reference used internally that you will not find published), fourteen preliminary drawings for his “Caprichos” etchings portfolio. These were unburdened of the layer of yellow starch varnish applied to them at the beginning of the 20th century, and the paper was reconditioned, rehumidified and flattened. A bonus is the explanation of the work done on one of the artist’s most iconic drawings, “Aún aprendo,” “I’m still learning,” one of Goya’s last drawings made during his final years of merciful exile in Bordeaux. The restoration was based on a photograph of the drawing in its original condition.


Commented Works: Albrecht Dürer (1498), with Cristina Iglesias Reply

Durer_26_PradoThis is another of the Prado Museum’s delightful little videos (6’51”) commenting on the works in their recent “La belleza encerrada. De Fra Angelico a Fortuny” show. Spanish artist, Cristina Iglesias, who lives in the U.K. and speaks excellent English, discusses Albrecht Dürer’s (Alberto Durero) 1498 Self Portrait at 26. Some of us wandered into the Prado when we were too young and, confronted unexpectedly with Durero’s prodigious work, were “imprinted” on it, like ducklings just out of the eggs. If you are one of us, you will like Cristina’s commentary on this little painting by the master.


Commented Works from the Prado: Articulated Mannequin by Albrecht Dürer (?) Reply


The Prado Museum in Madrid offers us another of their intimate little video jewels. On the occasion of the exhibit “Cloistered Beauty, From Fra Angelico to Fortuny” (La belleza encerrada. De Fra Angelico a Fortuny) in the museum, Spanish sculptor Juan Bordes comments on a delightful little piece attributed–with some doubt–to Albrect Durer, ca. 1525. In this five-minute video Bordes contributes the special sensitivity of the working artist to his commentary, emphasizing the charm of the small formats of all the work in this exhibit, works that “attract us like a magnet and communicate their message clearly as we’re standing before them. More…

Velázquez Portrait Has Pride of Place in Prado But Original May Be in Dorset, UK Reply

Precursor of Las Meninas may have been hanging in National Trust property for 150 years

Velazquez Las MeninasThe Guardian, October 2, 2013–Diego Velazquez’s portrait of the Infanta Margaret Theresa and her entourage takes pride of place in the Prado museum in Madrid, where it is seen by millions of visitors. Innumerable artists have been inspired by it; Pablo Picasso became so obsessed he painted 58 versions in one year alone. Arguments abound as to the exact meaning of the painting, which, with its use of angles, reflections, and multiple interpretations, creates an unsettling relationship between viewer and subject. On Wednesday, Las Meninas, or the Maids of Honour, provoked the latest argument in its 357-year history. More…

Francisco Goya – The First Modern Artist? – 3/3 2

by Bart Sedgebear

A Four-Part Series

Goya self2The Disasters of War series is traditionally divided into four parts: one introductory print, forty six portraying the horrors of war, seventeen with scenes of hunger in Madrid (though the city is not clearly alluded to in the images), and sixteen prints at the end of the series called Los caprichos enfáticos, “The Emphatic Follies.”

Goya’s introductory print to this series succinctly sums up what is to follow, both in his series of etchings and in world history. It depicts an imploring kneeling figure of a defenseless man who finds himself caught in the crossroads of the paths of glory trampled by psychotic politicians, generals and businessmen. More…

Francisco Goya – The First Modern Artist? -1/3 3

by Bart Sedgebear

Goya maja vestida

The name of Francisco Goya is familiar to all of us.  He was, after all, one of the all-time great visual artists. We are  familiar with the court paintings he did for Spain’s first Bourbon king, Fernando III, with the designs he did for the Royal Tapestry Factory in Madrid, with his half-hearted religious paintings and his prodigious prints.  And let’s not forget his celebrated oil portraits of othe Duchess of Alba, “The Nude Maja” and “The Dressed Maja,” which turned out not to have been of the Duchess of Alba, after all.  Have we stopped to consider, however, that this 18th-century Spanish artist from a humble village in the Aragonese outback may have been the inventor of modern art as we know it? More…