spain art museum

Spain: The Best Art Museums in Spain
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During the height of the Spanish Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries the epic kings of Spain channeled some of the riches that were coming from the Americas into art. They would order from and buy paintings and sculptures from the best artists in Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Spain today is one of the European countries that has the largest collections of art. Much of this art is found in its museums. Spain has also been the country that produced modern great artists such as Picasso and Dali.

This list is arbitrary (most lists are arbitrary) and contains the museums actually visited by the writer. The list has museums that have the largest collections and museums that are the most famous. There are many wonderful small museums that are not included here. It is meant as a guide for foreign visitors who love art. Following are some of the best art museums in Spain.

1. Museo Nacional del Prado (Popularly called El Prado) (Madrid)

In 1816 King Fernando VII created the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture, which later became the Prado Museum. It was to contain the art collection of the kings. The name of the building that houses the collection is called the Villanueva Building. Recently a big annex has been constructed by the famous Spanish architect Rafael Moneo (winner of the Pritzker Prize of Architecture). The new annex will allow more art to be exhibited. The Prado is now the largest art museum in Spain.

The Prado has a very large collection of Old Masters. These include the artists Velazquez, Goya, Murillo, Durer, El Greco, Bosch, Rubens, Fra Angelico, David, Zurbaran, Raphael, Titian, Ribera, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt. The kings also collected sculpture, so the Prado has one of the largest sculpture collections of Europe, including the sculpture collection of Queen Cristina of Sweden (her inheritor sold it to the Spanish crown).

The Prado is known to have more than 8, 600 paintings. The collection of art covers the period between the 12th century through the 19th century.

The most important painting in the collection is “Las Meninas”, by Velazquez. The painting has psychological facets that have fascinated viewers for a very long time. Then there are two paintings by Goya, “The Naked Maja” and “The Clothed Maja”. There is still controversy about who was the woman painted by Goya. A third Goya is “The Third of May”.

Another important painting is “The Three Graces”, by Rubens. Then there is “The Garden of Delights” by Bosch. Other famous paintings are “The Martyrdom of St. Philip” by Jose Ribera, three “Immaculate Conceptions” by Bartolome Murillo. El Greco painted “The Resurrection” and “The Adoration of the Shepherds”.

The museum is so large that it is impossible to see everything in one day. One has to choose what art interests him before deciding what to see.

2. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Madrid)

In the 1993 the Spanish government bought the private collection of the Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen, which contained more than 1500 paintings. This was the second biggest private collection in the world, second to the collection of the Queen of England. Many countries wanted to buy it, but the Baron was influenced by his Spanish wife Carmen Cervera.

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