Madrid, Spain

  • Date
  • 8 February 2000

The Museo del Prado’s special exhibition of Rubens, Van Dyke and Valazquez allowed us to view the three painters’ similar works from the same time period. First room offered self-portraits, another room showed royalty and aristocracy they painted and the final area displayed religious scenes and the crucifixion. Rubens, with his magical, graceful hands and love for plump, naked women, delighted me the most. Van Dyke was perhaps most realistic in his painting and Valazquez painted in a matte finish unlike the other two masters.

Then we viewed permanent paintings by Rubens, Goya – the war and his sickness, which left him deaf at 73, completely changed his style of painting from traditional to dark and angry – El Greco, Titian and more. The Museo del Prado offers Spanish, Flemish, Italian, French, German and Dutch paintings and you simply must visit if you are in Madrid.

From here, we walked across the street to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which I liked much more than Jim did. The museum is inside a restored late 18th/early 19th century, neo-Classical palace. Inside is one of the largest private, family collections in the world. Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza gave the collection, assembled by his father Baron Heinrich, to Spain. Two generations of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family collected almost 800 works from the 13th century up to surrealists of the late 20th century.

Several El Greco paintings and a Titian are together in one small room and the impact is powerful. El Greco used shades of purple, blue, green and pink that no other artist used during that time period. Bright, pastel colors instead of primary colors like Rubens. Two Rubens (again naked women) were fabulous. Impressionists and Post-Impressionists are represented by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Pissarro, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Cezanne. Avant-garde, surrealists and realists are represented by Lissitzky, Mondrian, Picasso, Gris, Miro, Kandinsky, Pollock, Magritte, Bacon and Lichtenstein.