For three days, Madrid literally unleashed its treasures on us: Prado Museum, Museo Cerralbo, Museum of America, El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Murillo, Titian, Veronese, Bosch, Van Dyck, Rubens, Dürer, and Poussin.
This painting was Irina’s favorite. She believes the beauty of Amalia de Llano y Dotres by Federico de Madrazo depicted here is much less contested than the beauty of Mona Lisa. Laughing eyes. Eyelashes ready to blink. Dazzling Amalia!
At one point, looking at all these masterpieces was like eating black caviar with a big spoon. Of course, we should not do it with masterpieces, but we had no choice. We were leaving in a few days, but we still had plans for the Episcopal Toledo, aristocratic Segovia, and Avila with its 88 watchtowers and mysterious cathedral church. Sometimes, we dream of coming to Paris, and every-day visiting only the Louvre for a whole week, but now, we have only one day for the Museo Del Prado, Madrid.
In this museum, the treasures of different epochs can be found side by side. The Roman copies of antique statues stand near the hall of Hieronymus Bosch and paintings of the Renaissance. We were even lucky enough to see the copy of La Gioconda by Leonardo da Vinci. As it turned out, the lady with the most famous smile—which reminds me more of a snake smile—had a twin sister.
If we had come a year earlier, it would not have happened, because the so-called Mona Lisa del Prado was returned to the Museo del Prado of Madrid only in February, 2012, after long research and restoration work. With the help of infrared rays, it was discovered that the artist made the same changes in the picture as Leonardo da Vinci did in the original. It proved that both paintings were created at the same time, and the copy was executed in the studio of Leonardo da Vinci. Some scientists believe that Francesco Melzi or Andrea Salai could be the creators of the copy. They were the most famous Leonardo’s students.
Today, Mona Lisa del Prado is located side by side with the photo of the original La Gioconda from the Louvre, Paris. Well, what to say? The Madrid’s La Gioconda looks 10-15 years younger than the one in the original, her eyes are filled with an appetite for life, and she still believes in happiness.
We took photos wherever it was possible, when the guards turned away, but their watchfulness was increased even for the copy of Mona Lisa. One day, you’ll have to go to the Museo del Prado to confirm or disprove my words.
Maybe, in the Prado, we made a mistake not asking for permission for taking photos as we did in the treasury of the Avila Cathedral. There, I appealed to the employee of the museum with a mixture of several languages: Senhora, please, only one shot. And she waved her hand: only one. That shot was not successful due to the light available, but we took a photo of another Madonna. She is like a disembodied angel woven from light.
The Museo del Prado with its collection has definitely staggered us, but it was too big to view in one visit, but the museum provides all the conditions to enjoy the arts over a long period of time: spacious halls with high ceilings where it’s easy to breathe, and a huge resting hall with a café to have lunch.
Of course, we photographed only what we liked beyond measure—something that was worthy of the violation of the prohibition of shooting photos. Unfortunately, we were successful only a few times, since the museum staff watched visitors very carefully. We failed to photograph one of the unforgettable Danaës: Danaë with Nursemaid or Danaë Receiving the Golden Rain by Titian, the real masterpieces of pictorial art.
Hieronymus Bosch. Before the trip to Madrid, we heard and read a lot about his triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. Being real admirers of Salvador Dali (we visited his house museum), we longed to see this “more than strange for those times” picture. Moreover, the church accepted it favorably, which seems unbelievable when you look at the triptych by Bosch. It seems like Dali’s paintings contain some secret messages, but Bosch’s pictures are always allegories.
El Greco. This was the first time we saw so many of his pictures. It seemed as if they would glow in the dark, if you turned off the light. El Greco is so original. His religious pictorial art was considered special even in his times, but his portraits of men became the real Spanish classics.
There are several of Francisco Goya’s works in the Museo del Prado. Though I am not fond of his grim pictures, I have to admit that these works full of darkness are impressive. When you remember that he went through plenty of palace intrigue, courts, and the fire of the Inquisition, it becomes clear where all these scenes and colors came from.
We were literally mesmerized by the picture The Three Ages of Man and Death by Hans Baldung. I think that the following words of Sappho perfectly fit the occasion, “If death were a blessing, the Gods would not have been immortal.”
Velázquez. The artist spent more than 30 years at the court of the King Philip IV, where he was appreciated a lot and entrusted with many secrets. I think that the series of his courtiers portraits could be read just like books. Oh, they would be real novels, but first, you should be acquainted with Spanish history.
It’s impossible to tell about everything in one blog post, but fans of paintings should definitely visit the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain.