Deemed as one of the most popularly thronged art galleries of the globe, Museum Prado Madrid is a feast to art lovers. The scintillating display of world’s stupendous artistic achievements classified under several categories makes this museum that a visitor to Madrid cannot miss out. Talking of paintings, the top highlights of the museum include the masterpieces of European artists like Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch in addition to an array of epoch making Italian and Flemish artists. What makes the paintings section of the museum daunting is the voluminous collection of much envied masterpieces of myriad variety that will bestow a highly fulfilling, rich and breathtaking experience to the lovers of painting. The paintings collection of Museo del Prado is around 7000 out of which only about 1500 are on display today. However, these classic pieces serve as a sort of window to peep into the grandeur achievement of different schools of European paintings.
Talking of Spanish paintings, Museo del Prado is proud to house the largest and the top highlights belonging to this school. The total number of displays under this category number about 4,800 and contain pieces that date back from Romanesque period stretching till the 19th-century. Some of the masterpieces in this segment have been accomplished by renowned artists including Bartolomé Bermejo, Pedro Berruguete, Sánchez Coello, El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Murillo, Alonso Cano, Velázquez, Goya, Vicente López, Fortuny, Carlos de Haes, the Madrazo, Rosales and Sorolla. However, the collection predominantly highlights two highly famed artists namely Velázquez and Goya. We find about 50 accomplishments by Velazquez, a sizeable number culled out from the Spanish Royal Collection. With a voluminous number of this great artist displayed here, the fact remains that understanding Velázquez’s works is impossible without a visit to this museum. The next highlight is the Goya collection numbering about 140. This personage was in the service of the Spanish royal family for a long time. However, from the royal collection of this artist, only a few are available here. The makers of the museum have taken many pains to acquire a collection of Goya’s works to project him on par with Velázquez. One of the notable pieces of Goya here is The Family of Charles IV.
The next value addition to the museum’s paintings segment is made by Italian paintings numbering over 1,000. A considerable chunk of this class is from the Italian royal collections. Till very late in the 19th century, the 14th and 15th century Italian paintings of the royal collection did not receive much recognition. Therefore, the number of pieces under this topic is scarcely limited. When we move on to the 15th century accomplishments, we come across the works of Fra Angelico, Mantegna, Antonello da Messina and Botticelli that offer a fulfilling experience. Emanating again from the royal collection, there is a good number of examples from the 16th-century paintings. Among the various schools that have contributed to this group, perhaps Venetian Schools lead in number and quality. Titan is the representative artist of this group with about 40 accomplishments of this renowned personage on display. We too find some exceptional works of Veronese, Tintoretto and the Bassano. A much heralded collection of Raphael is among the top highlights besides the works of Correggio and Parmigianino belonging to the Parma School, Sebastiano del Piombo representing the Roman School and Andrea del Sarto from Florentine. There is a large group of collections from the 17th- and 18th-century Italian paintings with a big number from the royal collection. Also, the paintings of Luca Giordano, Corrado Giaquinto and Giambattista Tiepolo will impress anyone.
Museo del Prado has on display about 1,000 masterpieces from the Flemish Paintings with a major number of them from the royal collection. The most interesting segment of this class is the 15th- and 16th-century works. Felipe II had adoration for in the earlier Flemish Primitive paintings and therefore, he had gathered a number of accomplishments by some of the leading artists of this school like Rogier van der Weyden to Bosch and Patinir. In the royal court, Anthonis Mor made a significant contribution. Aprt from these works, the paintings of Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes have got a good representation here. Some of the most striking works in Flemish Paintings are those of Rubens and there are about 90 of them. The museum also displays the works of Jan “Velvet” Brughel, Paul de Vos and David Teniers.
A visitor to Museo del Prado is enthralled by about 300 works of the French School of Painting ensuing from the Spanish royal collection. The array of works represents works from the 16th to 19th centuries with the top highlights belonging to the accomplishments of the 17th- and 18th- centuries. The notable works are those of Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorraine. Royal collectors of the Bourbon dynasty had a fancy from the works of French Art and they gathered some interesting paintings of Watteau, Coypel and Rigaud.
We do not find many works from the German School of paintings in the museum. With a number of them hailing from the royal collections, there are some classic pieces from the works of Albrecht Dürer, who was considered as one of the leaders in the German School of Painting. The notable ones are those of Carlos III’s court painter Anton Rafael Mengs. From the 16th century, we find four impressive works of Dürer comprising a Self-portrait, Adam, Eve, and the painting of an Unidentified Man, which were all gathered by Felipe IV. However, the top highlights are the striking panels by Hans Baldung Grien, Harmony, and The Ages of Man and Death. There are also two accomplishments by Lucas Cranach the Elder titled Hunt made in honor of Carlos V at Torgau Castle and the other one made in honor of Ferdinand I, Roman King, at Torgau Castle. The major number of the 18th century German paintings is mastered by Mengs. This renowned painter has made some classic court pieces of the Spanish, Neapolitan and Tuscan court.
The Museo del Prado has displayed about 200 paintings belonging to the 17th-century Dutch School. We can have an idea of the different straits of this school though the disappointment is due to the absence of works by Vermeer and Frans Hals. Some impressive pieces in this section were done by Rembrandt’s Judith, Matthias Stomer and Solomon de Bray. Highlights in this section include The Incredulity of Saint Thomas and Judith and Holofernes and the still lifes by the leading artists of the Haarlem School namely Pieter Claesz, Willem Claesz Heda and Jan Davidsz de Heem. We too find the works of Philips Wouwerman and Adriaen van Otade besides those of Jan Both, Herman van Swanevelt and Jacob van Ruisdael. Gabriel Metsu’s Dead Cockerel is a representative piece of animal painting, the striking genre of the Dutch painting.
Prado has a scarce number of British paintings and we can understand this from the political conflicts between Spain and England that lasted for over four centuries. Though not many, there are some masterpieces under this segment, which were acquired in the 20th century, with a major number of them accomplished in the late 18th century by artists like Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney and Hoppner. The top highlights are those of Thomas Lawrence likethe portraits of John Fane and Miss Martha Carr. We too find three striking works of David Roberts namely The Torre de Oro, Seville, The Castle of Alcalá de Guadaira and The Interior of the Mosque, Cordoba.