The building that today houses the Museo Nacional del Prado was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785. It was constructed to house the Natural History Cabinet, by orders of King Charles III. However, the building's final purpose - as the new Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures - was the decision of the monarch's grandson, King Ferdinand VII, encouraged by his wife Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza. The Museo Nacional del Prado, opened to the public for the first time in November 1819. The Museum's first catalogue, published in 1819, included 311 paintings, although at that time its collection comprised just over 1,510 pictures from the various Reales Sitios (Royal Residences). The exceptionally important royal collection, which represents the foundation of the Museum's collection as we know it today, started to increase significantly in the 16th century during the time of Charles V and continued to thrive under the succeeding Habsburg and Bourbon Monarchs. It is thanks to them that we can contemplate in the Museum masterpieces such as The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch, The Nobleman with his hand on his Chest by El Greco, Las Meninas by Velázquez and The Family of Carlos IV by Goya.
The visit will take place in chronological order,
- Starting with the exhibit hall where we will find J. Bosch’ masterpieces (El Bosco) (1450-1516): The Table of the 7 Deadly Sins, The Hay Wain, The temptations of San Antonio, The Stone of Madness and The Garden of Delights.
- We will then move on to the rooms dedicated to El Greco (1540-1614): The gentleman's hand on his chest, The Trinity, Christ embraced the cross and The Annunciation;
- Velázquez (1599-1660): The Worship, Drunkards, Equestrian Portraits, the Forge of Vulcan, The Christ, The spinners, Spears and Las Meninas.
- We will end with Goya (1746-1828): The family of Carlos IV Pictures, The Shootings of May 2, Pestles and Black Paintings.