The Prado has completed its presentation of the fascinating dialogue between Velázquez and the great Old Masters that articulates its new hanging

View of the Central Gallery from the anteroom after remodelling

    The Museo del Prado today presented one of the most important features within its plan to reorganize the collection, a project known as 'The Collection. The second extension'. This is the reopening of the Central Gallery on the main floor following its redesign and with significant changes to the arrangement of the works on display. With the completion of this phase of the 2009-2012 Collection Plan, initiated following the almost complete restoration and reordering of the ground floor, the Collection is now presented in a new manner on the Museum's two main floors, with Velázquez located at the heart of the two great traditions of European painting: the Italian and Flemish schools. To date, work on this project has meant that 25 more galleries have become available for display purposes, with 11 more to be added on the second floor by the completion of the project. Through the addition of these new spaces, an additional 300 works from the Museum's Permanent Collection can now be seen. The 'new' Central Gallery, the most emblematic space within the Prado, has now reopened to the public with the display of what is perhaps the most remarkable of all collections of European painting, ranging from Titian to Velázquez, Rubens and Goya.

    Monday 18 July 2011

    A year and a half prior to the scheduled date for the completion of its new display project, the remodeled presentation of the works in the Museum’s Central Gallery, initiated at the end of last year, constitutes one of the most important and complex elements within this plan. The opening sections of this broad, luminous gallery that forms the principal axis within the Villanueva Building now display large-format works that fall within the majestic pictorial tradition which originated with the great Venetian masters (Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese) and which would have such a profound influence on the development of European painting, in particular on the work of Annibale Carracci, Diego Velázquez, Rubens and Van Dyck, with whose works these canvases now engage in close dialogue. This story of connections, influences, admiration and rivalry between artists over the course of more than a century is now recounted in the elegant, light-filled spaces of Juan de Villanueva’s stately gallery.

    The completion of this key phase marks the end of a lengthy process that has encompassed almost the entire main floor of the Museum. The chronological route now starts with a presentation of the sixteenth-century collections, with Titian as the principal focus, and culminates with Goya in the late eighteenth century. The new arrangement of the works allows for a connection to be established between the two great European traditions represented in the Prado – the Italian and Flemish schools – and Spanish painting, led by Velázquez. For the first time and through a dual, longitudinal and transversal arrangement of the works, visitors will be able to appreciate the influence of the great masters such as Titian and Rubens (now on display in the Central Gallery) on Spanish painters from El Greco to Goya.

    In the north wing of the galleries that flank this space, Ribera and the distinctively Spanish interpretation of naturalism (Maíno, Zurbarán and early Velázquez) now connect with the Museum’s Italian Baroque paintings. To the south, following the Velázquez rooms and parallel to the display of great works by Rubens and the later Flemish school, the new display presents major works by Spanish painters of the second half of the century, with Murillo, Cano and Carreño de Miranda as the leading figures.

    Finally, and in relation to this Spanish-European context, Goya is shown alongside paintings by the artists who worked for the new Spanish Bourbon dynasty in the eighteenth century, such as Mengs and the Tiepolos.

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