Madrid - Galleries & Art

Our delightful hotel, The Hotel Suecia, was within easy walking distance well of “The Avenue of Art”, an elegant tree-lined boulevard, called the Paseo del Prado.  This area is often referred to as the “Golden Art Triangle of Madrid” for the three leading art galleries Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia stuated along its length.

  This area had once been regarded as an outlying area of the city and referred to as the meadow of St Jerome (Prado de San Jeronimo) after the church, the Iglesia de San Jeronimo el Real, built in the sixteenth century for Queen Isabel.  

During the reign of Carlos III (1759-1789), a large-scale urban renewal scheme was planned for this area to include gardens, significant buildings and three grand fountains the Cibeles, Neptune and Apollo, designed by the architect Ventura Rodriguez (more on those later). This was to become known as the Salon del Prado. 

 Museo del Prado

 El Prado is regarded as the most beautiful neoclassic building in Madrid. Another of the King’s master architects designed it, Juan de Villanueva as the Museum of Natural History in 1785.  

In 1819 it became Madrid’s premier Museum of Art and today contains the world’s finest collection of Spanish paintings, including the masterpieces Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco, Las Meninas by Velasquez and Goya’s The Clothed Maja and The Naked Maja, The Third of May (the execution of the Spanish patriots by the French in 1808) and his late sombre works called The Black Paintings and the great artists of Spain’s Golden Age, Ribera, Zurburan and Murillo.  Many other masterpieces are a part of the Prado collection such as Van der Weyden’s The Deposition, Caravaggio’s David Victorious over Goliath and as well as Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Delights and Fra Angelico’s Annunciation.  

Thanks to the Prado's enlightened view allowing non-flash photography, we can bring you pictures of some of the works mentioned. 

Trisha in front of Las Meninas

Goya's The Third of May

Van der Weyden’s The Deposition, received close study.

as did the Caravaggio, although it would have been better if well known Caravaggio aficionado Michael Green could also have been in attendance to enjoy it with us.

The following small detail from Bosch's The Garden of Delights gives some idea of the state of his mind at the time the work was completed.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum contains an exquisite collection housed in the equally exquisite former 18th Century neoclassical Palacio de Villahermosa.  The collection assembled by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his son, Hans Heinrich, commenced in the 1920s was intended to illustrate the history of Western Art from Italian and Flemish primitives to 20th Century Expressionism and Pop Art.  

The Palacio was adapted by Rafael Moneo was opened to the public in 1992, the 800 art works were initially on loan to the Government and in 1993 acquired by the Spanish State for a sum of $350 million.  The recent purchase of adjacent properties saw the construction of modern galleries, on the right in the picture below, to house the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza collection (wife of the Baron).  See the  


Two particular masterpieces Ghirlandaio’s Giovanna Tornabuoni and Caravaggio’s Santa Catalina de Alejandria will be remembered and a significant, comprehensive Corot exhibition was a delight, entitled Nature Emotion Souvenir it represented all aspects and all periods of his work.  Finally an informal portrait of the Baron by Lucian Freud was a worthy inclusion in the collection.  

Following is an image of Ghirlandaio’s Giovanna Tornabuoni

Below is Caravaggio's Santa Catalina de Alejandria

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia stands at the southernmost end of the Avenue of Art.  In 1992 it was inaugurated to house the collection of the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art that had been located on the outskirts of the city in the University area.

The building is situated across from the main Madrid station, Atocha and the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V another busy roundabout.  It was originally a hospital designed by the architect Francisco Sabatini in the 18th Century.  Between 1980 and 1988 restoration work was started by Antonio Fernandez Alba and finished by Iniguez de Ozono and Vazquez de Castro and its two famous transparent lift towers were designed in collaboration with the English architect, Ian Ritchie.  The French architect, Jean Nouvel, has designed major extensions.  

The picture below shows Atocha viewed from inside the elevator on the top floor.

 In the frontcourt stands the large monolithic sculpture The Spanish People Have a Path which Leads to a Star (1937) by Alberto (Alberto Sanchez), which stood in a similar position in front of the Spanish Pavilion at the World Fair in 1937.  

Below a picture of the sculpture from inside the elevator.

While below we see the piece by itself.

The collection is of Spanish contemporary art including Picasso, Miro, Gris, Dali, Tapies and the Spanish sculpture Eduardo Chillida with a wide variety of temporary exhibitions covering diverse modern artistic disciplines.  

Perhaps the most well known painting in the gallery is Picasso's Guernika and you can see details of this work by clicking here.

Unfortunately the MNCARS, as it is known for short, has a strictly enforced policy against photography, so we can't bring you any images from within its galleries, but the picture below of the courtyard showing the Calder mobile was taken through the glass in spite of being scolded by a guard. Unfortunately the courtyard was closed for renovations, or because it was Monday. 

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