Atlantis Alumni

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Visit to the Prado

Our visit to the Prado included some revelations, even though we've been to that great museum several times. First of all there were the new additions by Moneo, including a tall tower which preserved an early Renaissance cloister. On the ground floor, another room, with brightly painted red walls and a skylight ceiling, showed off a collection of ancient Roman sculpture to best effect.

Despite the many treasures by Titian, Ribera, Zubaran, Durer, Rubens and many others, perhaps the two artists who predominate in my mind when visiting the Prado are Bosch and Velazquez. Due to the tourist crowds, it was difficult to point out all of the strange goings-on in the "Garden of Earthly Delights" by Bosch, but it was easier to view small paintings by that enigmatic master, like the "St.Anthony" and "The Adoration of the Magi." As a graduate student at Columbia U. in New York I wrote a master's thesis on Bosch, and I've read many other books on him since then, but his works never ceases to amaze me with its mysteries and painter's freshness. One has to admire his distant landscapes and greenery, always full of the promise of Spring.

The Velazquez paintings are equally profound. In such masterpieces as "Los Borachos," "The Spinners," "The Surrender at Breda," and "Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan," the master Baroque artist combines myth or history with the every day lives of his Spanish contemporaries, to the enrichment of both mortals and deities. And in his greatest masterpiece, "Las Meninas" there are few equals in terms of examing an entire, vanished way of life: that of the nobility. Yet again, in this masterpiece, Velazquez also examines daily light, space and reality in unequalled ways.

So visits to the Prado are nourishing to the psyche and the soul, and not to be missed if you are visiting Madrid.


PHOTO: The main post office in Madrid, which is near the Prado

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