In addition, the Prado has important collections of drawings, prints and sculptures as well as numerous examples of the decorative arts and historical documents.
The building that houses the Museo Nacional del Prado was designed in 1785 by the architect Juan de Villanueva on the orders of Charles III as a Natural History Cabinet. The building’s ultimate purpose, however, would not become clear until the King’s grandson, Ferdinand VII, encouraged by his consort, Queen María Isabel de Braganza, decided to use it for the founding of a Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures. The Royal Museum, which soon changed its name to that of Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura [National Museum of Painting and Sculpture], opened to the public in 1819. The first catalogue included 311 paintings, although by that date the Museum housed 1,510 works that had previously been in royal residences.
The exceptionally important Spanish royal collections, which are the nucleus of the present-day Museo del Prado, began to take shape in the 16th century under the auspices of the Emperor Charles V and were progressively enlarged by all succeeding monarchs, both the Spanish Habsburgs and the Bourbons. They acquired the most celebrated works that can now be seen in the Museum, including The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch, Gentleman with his Hand on his Breast by El Greco, The Death of the Virgin by Mantegna, The Holy Family, known as “The Pearl” by Raphael, Charles V at the Battle of Mühlberg by Titian, Christ washing the Disciples’ Feet by Tintoretto, Dürer’s Self-portrait, Las Meninas by Velázquez, The Three Graces by Rubens and The Family of Charles IV by Goya.
In addition, important works were incorporated into the collection from the Museo de la Trinidad, including The Fountain of Grace by the School of Van Eyck, Auto da Fe with Saint Dominic by Pedro Berruguete, and the five canvases by El Greco painted for the Colegio de doña María de Aragón. Joining the collection from the Museo de Arte Moderno were most of its 19th-century holdings, including works by the Madrazo, Vicente López, Carlos de Haes, Rosales and Sorolla. Since the founding of the Museo del Prado, more than 2,300 paintings and a large number of sculptures, prints, drawings and decorative works of art have arrived in the form of New Acquisitions, primarily as donations, bequests and purchases. Goya’s “Black Paintings” were donated to the Museum by Baron Emile d’Erlanger in the 19th century. Important recent purchases have included El Greco’s Fable and The Flight into Egypt, acquired in 1993 and 2001 respectively, The Countess of Chinchón by Goya in 2000, and The Pope’s Barber by Velázquez in 2003.
Numerous bequests have enriched the Museum’s holdings, including the Pablo Bosch Bequest with its magnificent collection of medals, the Pedro Fernández Durán Bequest, which includes a very large collection of drawings and decorative objects, and the Ramón de Errazu Bequest of 19th-century paintings. Both the Collection and the number of visitors to the Prado enormously increased over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, as a result of which the Museum was obliged to enlarge the original building by Villanueva on a number of occasions to the point where this was no longer possible. For this reason, the most recent expansion of the Museum took the form of a new building located next to the rear façade of the original one and connected with it on the interior. Alongside the realisation of its latest and most ambitious expansion project (2001-2007), the Prado also embarked on a period of modernisation that was launched in 2004 with the Museum’s change of statutory and juridical status in response to a need to make its running and management more flexible and to increase its potential for self-financing. This change of status was implemented through the Law governing the Museo Nacional del Prado, passed in Parliament in November 2003, and its subsequent consolidation through a Statute approved by a Royal Decree of 12 March 2004.
The building that houses the Museo Nacional del Prado was designed in 1785 by the architect Juan de Villanueva on the orders of Charles III as a Natural History Cabinet. The building’s ultimate purpose, however, would not become clear until the King’s grandson, Ferdinand VII, encouraged by his consort, Queen María Isabel de Braganza, decided to use it for the founding of a Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures.
10,00 / 7,00 EUR
With the termination of Rafael Moneo’s project around the area of the church of the Jerónimos, the Museo del Prado has completed the most important extension to its building in its almost 200 years of history.
This project, which includes the creation of new exhibition galleries and the restoration of the old Cloister of the Jerónimos, is part of an ongoing expansion project that involves the incorporation of various nearby buildings into the Prado, including the Casón and the Salón de Reinos, the last surviving remains of the Buen Retiro Palace. When completed, the Prado will constitute a unique museum campus which will enormously increase the already rich facilities to be found in one of the most important art and cultural districts in the world, known as the “Paseo del Prado”, in the Spanish capital.
The Museum is now celebrating the termination of an important phase in the creation of the new Museo del Prado Campus, involving the extension of the Museum’s main building into the area of the Cloister of the Jerónimos, corresponding to Rafael Moneo’s project. Following two architectural competitions, Moneo’s project was chosen for the extension project in 1998. Work began in February 2002 under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture.
The new building incorporates more than 22,000 square metres of surface area (an increase of more than 50% on the existing size) and will allow the different visitor services and functions related to the display and preservation of the collections to be arranged in a more ordered and spacious way.
14,00 / 7,00 EUR
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