Would you like to learn interesting things about best museums in Madrid?
We have in Madrid 41 very appealing museums for art lovers.
Since 1997 Madrid Museum Tours specializes on private tours for individual travelers.
Madrid Museum Tours team are licensed guides and art historian. We know Madrid like the back of our hands.
And we are going to tell you on this blog which are the 3 best museums of Madrid, and why.
The best museum in the world in paintings between the 15th and 17th century.
1785 was the year of inauguration of a majestic building in a meadow on the outskirts of Madrid. Written testimonies said that from its staircase pedestrians enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Fourteen years later, an important pinacotheque opened on the same building.
An important part of its masterpieces has a Royal origins. It came from the Collections of Kings Philip II and his grandson Philip IV.
King Philip II (reigned from 1556 to 1598)
He was the classic Renaissance prince. A meticulous and hard-working monarch. A person of many profiles. A devout Catholic and a womanizer. A solitary but captivating person. An inveterate reader. Lover of astrology and astronomy.
Two of his main hobbies contributed to his ruin. But, in the long term, it enriched Spain. The impressive Escorial Monastery, a sublime architectural jewel of the Renaissance. And his fantastic collection of paintings. Prado Museum has around 700 paintings that belonged to Philip II:
– Masterpieces of the Quattrocento. The Renaissance of the 15th century produced immeasurable artists. Wonderful paintings by Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Bellini, Mantegna and more. All adorn the Prado Rooms dedicated to Quattrocento. The Prado has also rooms dedicated to 15th century Flemish artists. It equal in value those of Quattrocento. Visitors can’t miss Phillip’s II favourite painting. You ought to admire it from short, medium and long distances: It is Roger Van der Weyden’s Descent of the Cross . In adjacent Rooms visitors will find other beautiful works. By Jan Van Eyck, Brueghel the Elder, Patinir and Gossaert, among others.
– Hyeronimus Bosch and The Garden of Heavenly Delights. Another favorite masterpiece of King Phillip II. And also of thousand visitors to Prado Museum. Those times when this painting was a Taboo are over. But it is still an enigmatic and very controversial work in the history of painting.
– Albert Durer : He was one of the first Western painters to self-portrait. Durer wrote the first essay on painting art. Its subject, how to paint people in life size. Durer’s self-portrait and his life-size Adam and Eve are unavoidable for visitors.
– Masterpieces of Titian: The Venetian School renewed the art of painting. The Prado has excellent paintings by eminent artists Tintoretto and Veronese. Titian was the biggest representative of the School of Venice. On his last years Titian’s technique surpassed its time. He influenced masters such as Velázquez, Goya, impressionists and expressionists . The Prado Museum exhibits a large collection of works by Titian, as he was the favorite painter of Philip II.
Madrid Museum Tours explains meaning, symbols and techniques of King Phillip II collection.
Our private tours are a pleasant approach to the art of Quattrocento and Flemish 15 century. We reveal how both of it faced all spiritual and religious issues of their time. Like the origin and meaning of its extensive symbology. And the revolutionary implantation of linen oil and perspective. Or background landscapes added to religious paintings. We will talk about the popularization of psychological portraits. And about more things that are not explained. The little banners beside the paintings or the museum audioguides are too elementary.
King Philip IV (reigned from 1621 to 1665)
The grandson of Phillip II was another great art collector. He had an insecure and shy character. He excelled in many sports. Like his grandfather, Phillip IV was a womanizer. His sex addiction caused him obsessive remorse. He was also tortured by his many failures as a ruler. In artistic matters he was the greatest benefactor of Golden Age artists. He maintained a close relationship with Rubens and Velazquez. He increased the Royal Collection of paintings in some eight hundred magnificent masterpieces. Among it, we highlight below :
– Works by José de Ribera : Felipe IV owned around 100 paintings by Ribera. He highlighted his Characters by strong chiaroscuro. Ribera applied thick fillings on the foreheads of his subjects. This technique favourized unmatched wrinkles. In Women Gladiator he reached powerful expressions, garnished with an awesome chromatic richness. Ribera represented the most beautiful Mary Magdalene of Spanish Baroque era. In Jacob’s Dream, he achieved a wonderful, intimate twilight. Prado visitors enjoy here the gentle breeze rocking the leaves. And the golden cloud where vaporous angels hide. Best art of Ribera is available at the Prado, the best museum in Madrid.
– Velázquez and Philip IV : On 17th century happened a miraculous encounter. A brilliant painter met the greatest patron of his time. This very special relationship, lasting 44 years, reached its peak with Las Meninas. Our private tour Velázquez and Goya unveils the history of Velazquez and King Phillip IV. Only in the Prado, the best Museum in Madrid.
– Rubens and Philip IV : King Philip IV, like his grandfather Philip II, was very fond of Mythology. No artist of the 17th century matched Rubens spectacularity. Rubens used his talent to create theatrical mythological representations. This way he satisfied the king’s artistic/erotic cravings. The pearl of Peter Paul Rubens collection is the Three Graces , one of the most admirable paintings of Universal Art. The Prado, as the best museum in Madrid, offers an unique opportunity to enjoy a wide range of Rubens works. Madrid Museum Tours clients to Prado museum will learn all the secrets of Rubens. And his direct technique of dazzling colors.
Goya is one of the most popular Spanish painters in the world. Goya is one main reason to explain why the Prado is the best museum in Madrid. The Prado is the only museum in the world where you can enjoy Goya’s painting evolution. He started at the Royal Factory of Santa Barbara makings cardboards for tapestries. And he ended his stay in Madrid by painting provocative ‘Black Paintings’. Goya had a fantastic evolution. At first, he captured with unmatched freshness the colorful customs of Madrid’s locals. At the end, Goya´s painted his gloomy inner demons. Between, Goya, became an immeasurable portraitist. He captured with his genius and varied qualities almost all celebrities of his time.
TRIBUTE TO THE FOUNDER
Her Majesty Isabel de Braganza, ephemeral Queen of Spain founded the Prado Museum. On its current location. It is a great pity that the Queen passed away giving birth, before seeing her project consummated.
In 2019 the Prado celebrates 200 years of existence. Leafy trees prevent now visitors from enjoying a beautiful sunset. The Prado Museum is Madrid’s most popular tourist attraction. Long queues of visitors from all over the world testify this daily.
MUSEUM REINA SOFIA
Excellent Contemporary Art Center
Reina Sofia Modern Art Centre is another of the 3 best museums in Madrid.
The Reina Sofía. Best museum to soak up the different artistic manifestations of the 20th century.
The white and deep corridors of its old building allow easy access to the art rooms. The transparent structure of its modern building is a work of art of modern architecture. The bookstore of Reina Sofia is the leading art book shop in Madrid
Reina Sofia Modern Art Centre shows, on rotating basis, some meaningful films and documentaries. Very helpful for visitors to associate differents artwork and schools of its time
Reina Sofía is famous for hosting Picasso’s Guernica, the most important work of art of the 20th century.
Apart from Picasso, Reina Sofia has remarkable works by Dali, Miro and Juan Gris.
Beginning of XX century. The painters of crude Spanish expressionism are protagonists of Reina Sofía collection. Ramón Casas, eminent academic painter. Ignacio Zuloaga, somber and critical. Romero de Torres, modernist eroticism. Santiago Rusiñol, the morphinomaniac leader. Anglada Camarasa, dazzling colours. Isidro Nonell, painter of the marginalized. All them reflected in their works characters and customs of their time.
They were the main painters of the decadence of Spain. Their excellent academic training resulted in paintings of great quality. Their representations and portraits of women scandalized the boring Spanish society .
Back to Picasso, Dalí, Miró and Juan Gris. Reina Sofía Modern Art Centre exhibits valuable works by these geniuses. Madrid Museum Tours presents biographical aspects of each of them. These aspects enlighten visitors. And help them to analyze their influences, techniques, style and evolution. Pleasant and instructive information. To describe the essence of these geniuses of art. And the movements that they represented.
You will hear many anecdotes about those four. ( To review the nuances of their concepts and contradictions )
To find out some answers to great questions : Apart from personal tastes, was Miró a good painter indeed ? Who was a better cubism painter, Juan Gris or Picasso ? Why stagnated Dalí ? Was Picasso’s bad reputation as a person justified?
THYSSEN BORNEMISZA MUSEUM
A great collection as a perfect complement to the Prado and Reina Sofia.
The Thyssen Bornemisza Museum is the place in Madrid to learn the evolution of painting art. From the Romanesque to the 20th century. Its collection includes art periods that aren’t found at Prado or Reina Sofia.
On the ground floor of the museum are the portraits of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen Bornemisza and his wife Carmen Cervera. She was the planner of the move of the Thyssen Collection from Lugano to Madrid. Thanks Carmen Cervera mediation, the Baron and Spain closed a big deal. 1993 was the year when Spain acquired 775 works from the Thyssen B. collection at a price of 350 million dollars. A bargain.
Hans Heinrich Thyssen expanded the collection initiated by his grandfather and father. The third Baron von Thyssen brought together the largest collection of German expressionists . From then on, he broadened his interest in other schools and pictorial periods. The culmination came with the avant-garde of the 20th century.. All this should is available on a walk in this museum.
The second floor has samples of Gothic paintings and masterpieces of later times. Here are a self-portrait by Rembrandt (of his period of prosperity). A spectacular and ambiguous Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio. A portrait of Henry VIII . Hans Holbein the Younger superimposed there reflexivity over the monarch’s usual arrogance . Fans of urban landscapes or of nature will be able to admire some works of Canaletto and Claudio de Lorena. On this floor there is an icon of the museum. The posthumous portrait that the artist Domenico Ghirlandaio made of Giovanna degli Albizzi. She died prematurely at the age of 20 and was a muse of the painter and of Sandro Botticelli.
The first floor exhibits an exceptional collection of 17th century Flemish paintings. The first floor exhibits an exceptional collection of 17th century Flemish paintings. An essential material to establish the differences between the Spain’s and Flemish art. Works of American painters of the 19th century explain influence of European 17th. century masters over them.
The French impressionists also have their own space in the Thyssen Museum. Here, the visitor will admire many great things. One of the few open-air portraits of Eduardo Manet. A beautiful female portrait of Manet’s impossible love, Berthe Morissot. A painting by Camille Pisarro who captured the wet pavements of Paris like nobody else. Landscapes of Gauguin before leaving to Tahiti. A colored landscape of Renoir with Monet‘s wife and son. This work looks sharp from afar and blurry from a short distance. Like genuine impressionist art. Degas, Cezanne, Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh... are all here as well .
The pearl of museum first floor are the German expressionists. Together with some masters who influenced them. Like Kokoschka, Derain, Picasso, Ensor, Munch and Schiele.
The first expressionists were a group of self-taught young men from Dresden. They, as Munich and Berlin expressionists, pointed out collective anguishes of XX century. These traumas passed later to other arts. Dehumanization of life in big cities. Incommunication between people. Immovable, cold loneliness. Dresden expressionists used shocking colors and thick strokes to describe tortured characters. Or depressing situations in environments of icy anonymity. At the same time they proposed a very simple solution. Return to simple life in a nature not sullied by man.
Kandinsky is the initiator of the next German expressionist movement, ‘The Blue Rider’. Artists, members of this group continued with images of the evils of German society. Yet, expressing it through refined techniques and more harmonious colors.
The Berlin School was the last German expressionist movement. His works exhale the drama of Nazism. A metaphorical svastica swinging over the heads of the inhabitants of disillusioned Germany.
The German Expressionist Schools at the Thyssen Museum deserves a thorough study. It are a valuable testimonies for studying the neuroses of the 20th century. Painters, filmmakers, photographers and playwrights brought out splendid works to describe it.
The Thyssen Bornemisza museum dedicates its ground floor to the avant-garde. It is an heterodox pictorial cocktail that ranges from Futurism to Hyperrealism. Soviet Constructivism and Abstract Painting in the USA are also highlighted. This section shows how painters freed from the yoke of reality to explore other fields. Time arrived of plasticism, geometric and abstract forms. Some artists refused to follow these new routes. There were those who integrated poetry and dreams into their figurative work. Others reflected in their creations own or other people’s neurosis. And with the arrival of the ‘sixties’, pop art emerged. New artists who caricatured the forms of life of their time.
In short, a visit to the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum means much more than a mere artistic journey. It is a wonderful journey through the evolution of painting. And a study of the evolution of human race during specific periods of their lives.
Madrid Museum Tours combines a personalized walking tour with guided visits to the museums of Prado, Reina Sofía, Thyssen Bornemisza and Royal Palace. Click here for further information