Prado Museum – Virtual Tour
The Prado Museum is Span’s National Art Museum and one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century.
The collection comprises around 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 4,800 prints, and 1,000 sculptures. Take a Virtual Tour.
A Virtual Tour of the Prado Museum
- “Las Meninas” or “The Ladies-in-Waiting” by Diego Velázquez
- “The Triumph of Bacchus” by Diego Velázquez
- “Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary” by Raphael
- “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya
- “The Third of May 1808″ by Francisco Goya
- “The Judgment of Paris” by Peter Paul Rubens
- “Adam and Eve” by Peter Paul Rubens
- “The Holy Trinity” by El Greco
- “The Adoration of the Shepherds” by El Greco
- “Self-Portrait with Gloves” by Albrecht Dürer
- “The Surrender of Breda” by Diego Velázquez
- “Christ Crowned with Thorns” by Anthony van Dyck
- “The Second of May 1808 – The Charge of the Mamelukes” by Diego Velázquez
- Masterpieces of the Prado Museum
- “Venus and Adonis” by Titian
- “Diana and Callisto” by Peter Paul Rubens
- “The Fall of Icarus” by Jacob Peter Gowy
- “Christ among the Doctors” by Paolo Veronese
- “Portrait of an Elderly Nobleman” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Jerónimo de Cevallos” by El Greco
- “Portrait of a Gentleman” by El Greco
Highlights Tour of the Prado Museum
“Las Meninas” or “The Ladies-in-Waiting” by Diego Velázquez is a complex and mysterious composition which, when studied, creates an ambiguous relationship between the audience and the various subjects in this painting.
The complex arrangement of Las Meninas has made this painting one of the most analyzed masterpieces in Western art. “Las Meninas” depicts a room in The Royal Alcázar of Madrid.
It was a fortress located at the site of today’s Royal Palace of Madrid, during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain. The figures in the painting are all real historical members of the Spanish court.
The young Infanta Margaret Theresa is in the center of her entourage of maids of honor, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs, and a dog. Infanta was the title for the daughter of the ruling monarch of Spain, especially the eldest daughter, who was not heir to the throne.
“The Triumph of Bacchus” by Diego Velázquez depicts Bacchus surrounded by drunks. The work represents Bacchus as the God who rewards men with wine, releasing them from their problems.
Bacchus was considered an allegory of the liberation of man from the slavery of daily life. Commissioned by King Philip IV, Velázquez had studied the king’s collection of Italian paintings and especially the treatment of mythological subjects.
In this work, Velázquez adopted a realist treatment of a mythological subject, an approach he pursued during his career. The composition is divided into two halves.
On the left, is the luminous Bacchus figure, and the character behind him is represented in the traditional loose robes used for depictions of classical myth. The idealization of the Bacchus’s face is highlighted by the light which illuminates him in a classical style.
“Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary” by Raphael shows Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion, at the moment when he fell. The foreground of the painting is densely packed with emotional responses, especially his mother’s agony.
Simon of Cyrene, who is centered above Christ, is lifting Christ’s cross momentarily. The four Marys are depicted on the bottom right side of the painting. Towering on either side of the composition are Roman guards.
“The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder depicts an army of skeletons wreaking havoc across a burnt and burning desolate landscape.
Fires burn in the distance, and there are shipwrecks in the sea. In this scorched and barren landscape, the skeletons massacre the living, who seem to be surrounded.
People are herded into a coffin-shaped trap decorated with crosses, while a skeleton on horseback is killing people with a scythe.
The painting depicts all of humanity from peasants to nobles as well as a king and a cardinal being overtaken by the “Triumph of Death.” The scene is this painting is full of sub-stories of human vanity and our inability to escape death.
“Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya depicts the Greek myth of the Titan, who fears that he would be overthrown by one of his children, so he ate each one of his children upon their birth.
The work is one of the 14 Black Paintings that Goya painted directly onto the walls of his house sometime between 1819 and 1823. It was transferred to the canvas after Goya’s death and has since been held in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
According to Roman myth, which was inspired by the original Greek myth, it had been foretold that one of the sons of Saturn (Cronus in the Greek original myth) would overthrow him, just as Saturn had overthrown his father.
To prevent this, Saturn ate his children moments after each was born. His wife Ops eventually hid his third son, Jupiter, on the island of Crete, and deceived Saturn by offering a stone wrapped in swaddling in his place.
Jupiter eventually supplanted his father Saturn, just as the prophecy had predicted.
“The Third of May 1808” by Francisco Goya depicts the early hours of the morning after the uprising in May 1808 by the people of Madrid against the occupation of the city by French troops.
Goya portrays the French as a rigidly firing squad, and the citizens are represented as a disorganized group of captives held at gunpoint. Executioners and victims face each other in a confined space.
The Spanish uprising had provoked harsh repression by the French forces. Goya has contrasted the disciplined line of rifles, with the chaotic individual reactions of the citizens.
A square lantern sits on the ground between the two groups throwing a dramatic light on the scene. The light highlights the fallen victims to the left where a monk is praying.
The central figure is lit brightly by the lantern, as is the man kneeling amid the corpses of those already executed. His arms are flung wide in defiance.
His yellow and white clothing mirrors the colors of the lantern. His plain white shirt and sun-burnt face show he is a laborer. The firing squad, engulfed in shadow are portrayed as an integrated unit, their bayonets, and headgear forming a solid line.
“The Judgment of Paris” by Peter Paul Rubens shows Rubens’ version of idealized feminine beauty, with the goddesses Venus, Minerva, and Juno on righthand. Mercury accompanies Paris on the left side.
“The Judgement of Paris” is a story from Greek mythology. It is one of the events that led to the Trojan War. In the later Roman version of the story, it was also one of the events that led to the foundation of Rome.
The story of the Judgement of Paris offered artists the opportunity to depict a beauty contest between three beautiful female nudes. The Greek myth started when Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of Achilles.
Unfortunately, Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited, as she would have made the party unpleasant for everyone. Eris arrived uninvited and angry at the celebration with a golden apple, which she threw into the proceedings as a prize of beauty.
Three goddesses claimed the apple Hera (Juno), Athena (Minerva), and Aphrodite (Venus). They asked Zeus to judge which of them was fairest, reluctant to decide himself; he declared that Paris, a Trojan mortal, would judge their cases.
“Adam and Eve” by Peter Paul Rubens depict the first man and woman at the point when Eve is deceived into eating fruit from the forbidden tree, and then she gives some of the fruit to Adam.
The story of Adam and Eve is often depicted in art, and it has had a significant influence on literature and poetry. The story of the fall is commonly understood to be an allegory.
According to the Bible, God created Adam from dust and places him in the Garden of Eden. Adam is told that he could eat freely of all the trees in the garden, except for a tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Subsequently, Eve is created as Adam’s companion, and they are innocent and unembarrassed about their nakedness. However, after eating fruit from the forbidden tree, God curses and banishes them from the Garden of Eden.
“The Holy Trinity” by El Greco is a dramatic and expressionistic depiction of Jesus Christ ascending into heaven following his journey on Earth. The Trinity is represented by God the Father, his Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit symbolized as a dove.
Six grieving angels watch over the uprising of the body, while small, cherub faces gather at his feet. El Greco skilfully captures the weight of Christ’s body by placing the elongated Christ figure at an awkward angle.
El Greco’s use of brilliant colors and the emotion imbued into the faces make this masterpiece a moving example of religious art. This painting is one of El Greco’s first commissioned pieces in Toledo.
It was created for the attic of the main altarpiece at the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo.
“The Adoration of the Shepherds” by El Greco depicts a traditional subject that El Greco returned to during the last year of his life. El Greco made this painting to hang over his tomb in a church in Toledo.
The elongation of the bodies characterizes this masterpiece, as it did, all of the pictures of El Greco’s last years in Toledo, Spain. The infant Christ emits a light that plays off the faces of the witnesses who have gathered to pay homage to his birth.
The contrasts between light and dark promote the sense of drama, as do the group of angels that hover over the scene in tribute to the infant Christ.
Doménikos Theotokópoulos, widely known as El Greco, Spanish for “The Greek,” was a painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance.
The artist frequently signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος (Doménikos Theotokópoulos), often adding the word Κρής (Krēs, “Cretan”).
He is best known for elongated figures and for marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.
“Self-portrait at 26” by Albrecht Dürer is the second of the German Renaissance artist, three self-portraits. In this self-portrait, Dürer proudly depicts himself as he believed best reflected an artist of his ability.
Painted after his first trip to Italy, he is drawn with a proud bearing and the assured self-confidence of a young artist at the height of his ability.
Dürer’s image dominates the space as he rests his hands in beautiful luxurious silk gloves, and he wears the high fashion of the Italian and German Renaissance.
Dürer presents himself with a seductive look, wearing a draped hat with a tassel over his long, curled blond hair locks. He looks out at the viewer with a cool, ironic stare. His third self-portrait, “Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight,” three years later, has a very different mood.
In this self-portrait, Dürer shows himself before an open window with a view of a landscape with a lake before distant snow-capped mountains. The scenery is representing either the memory of his recent travels abroad or his inner mental state.
Dürer is dressed in colorful, extravagant clothes showing the influence of Italian fashion. His low-necked shirt is of fine linen, gathered and trimmed with a band of gold braid embroidery, and worn under an open-fronted doublet and a cloak tied over one shoulder.
“The Surrender of Breda” by Diego Velázquez depicts a military victory in 1624 during the Eighty Years War.
The Eighty Years’ War or “Dutch War of Independence” (1568–1648) was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg against Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands.
Velázquez shows the end of the “Siege of Breda,” which was one of Spain’s last significant victories in the Eighty Years’ War.
Velázquez composed “The Surrender of Breda” into two halves, which included the Dutch leader Justinus van Nassau, on the left and Spanish Genoese general, Spinola on the right. He presents the Spanish as a potent force but also shows facial expressions of fatigue, providing a personal view of the reality to war.
“Christ Crowned with Thorns” by Anthony van Dyck depicts Christ surrounded by figures who are mocking him. An armed soldier is placing the Crown of Thorns on his head.
The executioner is pulling his hair, and another offers him a cane as his scepter. Two other figures watch the scene through a window.
Van Dyck started this painting aged 20 during his first Antwerp period when he was the leading studio assistant and pupil of Peter Paul Rubens. It shows Rubens’ influence in its chiaroscuro and realistic portrayal of musculature.
However, van Dyck seems to have made significant changes early during his stay in Italy, showing the influence of Titian and other Venetian painters in Jesus’ face.
The Prado version of “Venus and Adonis” is set at dawn and shows the young Adonis pulling himself away from Venus. Under the trees to the left, Cupid lies asleep, with his bow and quiver of arrows hanging from a tree; this is not a time for love.
High in the sky, a figure rides a chariot, representing the dawn. Adonis is accompanied by three hounds with leads that are wound around his arm.
He holds a feathered spear, a weapon used in hunting in the 16th century. He has a horn hanging from his belt, and Roman sculptures inspire his dress.
“Diana and Callisto” by Peter Paul Rubens depicts the dramatic moment when Diana and her nymphs prepare to take a bath, and Callisto’s pregnancy is revealed.
Callisto is ashamed and tries to cover herself with her clothes. Diana is shown on the left, with the moon icon in her hair. Diana, as the goddess of the moon, the hunt, and chastity, had to punished Callisto, who had taken a vow of chastity.
The Roman poet Ovid, in his book Metamorphosis, popularised the ancient Greek myth of Diana and the nymph Callisto. Zeus was attracted to the nymph and took the form of Diana to seduce and rape her.
“The Fall of Icarus” by Jacob Peter Gowy depicts the moment when the wax in Icarus’s wings melted, and he tumbled out of the sky and fell into the sea where he drowned. Icarus’s wings were held together with wax.
They melted when he flew too close to the sun, and this story sparked the idiom “don’t fly too close to the sun.” In Greek mythology, Icarus and his father were attempting to escape their prison, employing wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax.
Icarus’ father, however, did warn him not to fly too low nor too high. He warned him not to fly low as the sea’s dampness would clog his wings. And not too high as the sun’s heat would melt the wax in his wings.
“Christ among the Doctors” by Paolo Veronese depicts the story from the final passage on Christ’s childhood, in Luke 2, 41-50, when, at the age of 12, he was taken to Jerusalem by his parents to celebrate Passover.
The Biblical story of the “Finding in the Temple” also called in art by the standard titles of “Christ among the Doctors” or “Disputation.” It was an episode in the early life of Jesus, and the only event of the later childhood of Jesus mentioned in a gospel.
The episode describes how Jesus, at the age of twelve, accompanies Mary and Joseph, and their relatives and friends to Jerusalem on pilgrimage during Passover.
On the day of their return, Jesus stayed behind in the Temple, but Mary and Joseph thought that he was among their group as Mary and Joseph headed back home.
After a day of travel, they realized Jesus was missing, so they returned to Jerusalem, finding Jesus three days later. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in The Temple in an in-depth discussion with the elders.
Portrait of an Elderly Nobleman by El Greco is a portrait whose subject’s name has been lost, but he probably came from Toledo, where the artist was then working. This work is considered one of the artist´s most exceptional portraits.
The anonymous nobleman faces the scrutiny of the viewer directly. El Greco shows him in a narrow white ruff and a neutral background, which points the way to Modern Age Portraits.
With the combination of thin and thick brushstrokes, he manages to bring the sitter extraordinarily close to us. It is signed on the right with Greek letters. It is one of El Greco’s superior executions for the supreme simplicity of substance and form.
Portrait of Jerónimo de Cevallos by El Greco is from late in his Toledo period. Although the subject faces the viewer, he turns his gaze away, creating an almost imperceptible sensation of instantaneous movement.
El Greco’s technique demonstrates an extraordinary lightness of paint. Titian and the Venetian School influence the neutral background.
It shows Jerónimo de Cevallos, a distinguished jurist of law at Escalona, but also frequently in Toledo on business as a secretary and counselor. He was also the patron and protector of El Greco’s son Jorge Manuel.
The portrait comes from the Duke of Arc’s villa, from where it went to the royal collection. It originally hung in the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid. The palace began as a royal hunting lodge and later became an alternative residence of the kings of Spain.
Portrait of a Gentleman by El Greco originally hung in the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid, but its subject is unknown.
El Greco depicts a man with a gaunt face bearing a mustache and goatee, large dark, almond-shaped eyes, and a long, thin nose. His short, dark hair brings out his pale complexion.
He is dressed in black, with a short ruff collar, and the lapels and collar of his outer garment suggest it is a sort of cassock. The background is of a greenish-ochre color.
El Greco’s versatility is demonstrated in his ability to adapt his brushstrokes with high precision for the face details. He has applied multiple narrow touches for the hair, a full brush for the sinuous ruff collar, and his excellent resolution for the ear and the nose.
He carefully defined the left eye, which is quite different from the right, it is more blurred, and without the same definition.
Museo del Prado, Madrid
- Name: Prado Museum
- Spanish: Museo del Prado
- City: Madrid
- Established: 1819
- Type: Art Museum, Historical Site
- Location: Paseo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Map for Museo del Prado, Madrid
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The Prado National Museum: A collection of 200 artworks
Welcome. Museo Nacional del Prado
The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders
Madrid, Spain: Prado Museum
“The habit doesn’t make the monk.”
– Spanish Proverb
Photo Credit: Tiia Monto / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)