The Museo del Prado has the largest and most important collection of Spanish painting in the world, numbering more than 4,800 paintings and dating from the Romanesque period to the 19th-century. This internationally-renowned collection includes masterpieces by artists such as Bartolomé Bermejo, Pedro Berruguete, Sánchez Coello, El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Murillo, Alonso Cano, Velázquez, Goya, Vicente López, Fortuny, Carlos de Haes, the Madrazo, Rosales and Sorolla.
The two great artists who are best represented in the Prado are Velázquez and Goya. The Museum has almost 50 paintings by the former, mostly from the Spanish Royal Collection. They include almost all the artist’s major compositions to the point where it could be said that the Prado is the only museum to house a body of work by one of the world’s leading artists of such importance and uniqueness that the artist’s work cannot be understood fully without knowledge of the Prado’s collection.
The Goya collection is also extremely rich, comprising more than 140 paintings. While the artist worked for many years in the service of the Spanish royal family, only a few works in the Museum’s collection are from royal residences, such as The Family of Charles IV. When the Museum opened Goya was still alive and it was only after his death that successive directors made great efforts to acquire his paintings, for example Federico Madrazo, who purchased the tapestry cartoons. Madrazo’s intention from the outset was to place Goya on the level of the great artists of the past in an homage to the leading painter of modern times. This explains why, in contrast to Velázquez, the Museum has acquired most of its works by Goya through donations, bequests and purchases.