Friday, January 13, 2023

A Third Of The Golden Triangle


Today we visited the Museo del Prado.  According to Wikipedia, "It is widely considered to house one of the world's finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish royal collection, and the single best collection of Spanish art.  

Founded as a museum of paintings and sculptures in 1819, it also contains important collections of other types of works. The Prado Museum is one of the most visited sites in the world and is considered one of the greatest art museums in the world. The numerous works by Francisco Goya, the single most extensively represented artist, as well as by Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez, are some of the highlights of the collection.”

We saw works by all of those artists except for Bosch, and many others.

The photo above and the next three photos are the Tabletop of don Rodrigo Calderon, circa 1600.  It is made of alabaster, lapis lazuli, Africano marble, white marble, and polychrome marble.  Isn't it spectacular??

The Prado's website says about the table's supports, "The table is supported by four bronze lions, three of them commissioned by Velazquez in Italy in 1651, as were those used for the Tabletop of Philip II. The fourth lion of this table is a bronze copy made in 2004 to replace the damaged lead one made in 1837, which in turn replaced the original damaged in the fire at the Alcazar in 1734."

Look at this gorgeous detail.  
This oil painting done by El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), is one of his earliest works painted in Spain, circa 1580.  It is called The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest.  
The painting was one of six.  From the Prado's website:  "This bust-length portrait entered the royal collections as a donation by the widow of the Duke of Arco, gentleman in-waiting, Equerry and Master of the Horse to Philip V. In his recreational estate at El Pardo, De Arco possessed a group of six portraits of gentlemen by El Greco whose provenance is now unknown. This group would come to constitute the principal holdings of portraits by the artist now in the Museo del Prado.

The present canvas is one of the earliest works by El Greco painted in Spain, and the most distinctive of the six. The sitter, who is aged around 30, is dressed according to Spanish fashion of the late 1570s, with a narrow, white ruff that reaches up behind his ears and frames his head. Standing out against his tight-fitting, black silk doublet is his right hand, resting on his breast, and the gilded hilt of his sword.

The way that the left arm is bent suggests that he is holding and presenting the sheathed weapon with his left hand, which is invisible to the viewer. The figure is outlined against a plain background of a pearly grey tone modulated by the reddish-brown of the preparatory layer beneath, which is visible on the surface. Thanks to the fact that it was displayed at an early date in the Museo del Prado, the painting became one of El Greco’s most celebrated works. The inclusion of the costly sword, the solemn and rhetorical gesture of the right hand, which is not common in secular works by the artist although fairly frequent in his religious compositions, the half-hidden medallion that he wears, and above all, the direct relationship established between sitter and viewer, have made this figure an iconic image of the Castilian and by extension the Spanish knight.

The enormous interest that the painting has aroused in art and literature explains the wide variety of resulting interpretations and identifications, although all of these focus on the sitter’s status as a quintessential Spanish aristocrat, resulting in the somewhat clichéd opinions that have accompanied the painting throughout most of the 20th century in which the sitter is seen as a knightly Christian, melancholy and austere, and a haughty representative of his class and time. At one point it was thought that the painting could be a self-portrait as the gesture of the hand was taken to be a proud statement of self-affirmation by El Greco. Specific names have been proposed for the sitter, including Miguel de Cervantes and Philip II’s secretary Antonio Pérez.

Without doubt, the most convincing suggestion has connected this figure with the Second Marquis of Montemayor, Juan de Silva y de Ribera, a contemporary of El Greco who was appointed military commander of the Alcázar in Toledo by Philip II and Chief Notary to the Crown, a position that would explain the solemn gesture of the hand, depicted in the act of taking an oath. Whatever the case, Portrait of a Gentleman with his Hand on his Breast is an excellent example of portraiture of its date, with formal parallels to be found in the type of court portrait introduced by the Habsburgs with their notably simple depictions of the sitters, represented frontally and strongly illuminated against a plain background. Comparable examples are also to be found in Italian Renaissance painting, particularly of the Venetian school, with which El Greco’s technique and composition can most aptly be associated. Such parallels include the gesture of the hand, which is a rhetorical device of great expressivity that helps to convey the sitter’s inner character and which is also to be found in other Venetian and Central European portraits. With or without these parallels, El Greco was fully able to imbue this portrait with a remarkable formal tension between the visible and the hidden."

This one is called, Octagonal Still Life with Bunches of Grapes, and was painted by Juan de Espinosa in 1646. I loved the octagon-shaped frame of this painting and the colors really appealed to me.  I'd hang this in my house.
I took a photo of this painting primarily to send to my cousin, who runs the hot air balloon company owned by her boyfriend. 

This is called Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon in Aranjuez.  It was painted by Antonio Carnicero circa 1784.

The image shows French balloon pilot Charles Bouclé’s experiment in the gardens of the Royal Seat at Aranjuez on June 5, 1784, during the final years of Charles III’s reign. It was Spain’s first manned balloon flight and it ended in an accident, as the daring pilot was injured when he failed to successfully control the apparatus’s descent.

The Prado Museum houses a permanent collection of art featuring over 5,000 drawings, more than 2,000 works of art, 700 sculptures, and over 1,000 medals and coins.

We only went for about five hours and I only snapped a few covert (or so I thought) photos before getting caught.  These are the ones I got.  

It's definitely a must-see in the city.  Next time, we'll do the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.  These make up the Big Three in Madrid's "Golden Triangle of Art".  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2022: Sorry, no post on this day.
I Roll
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Gilded Tourist Attraction
2018: Dining Up North
2017: Promoting International Cooperation
2016: Truly A Man Of Leisure
2015: Beer Run
2014: Field Two
2013: We Are A Very Rich, Blessed, Lucky, Fortunate Lot Aren't We?
2012: Passion Creates Pure Art
2011: Reflecting On The Day
2010: Crunching The Numbers
2009: Looking Grand At The Grand Canyon
2008: Overshadowing Government
2007: Miami International
2006: Did You Check The Solenoid?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

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