Spanish paintings from the Romanesque to the Renaissance
The Museo del Prado inaugurates its new galleries devoted to Spanish Medieval and Renaissance painting, sponsored by Fundación AXA. This new stage in the Museum’s project to re-hang and expand its collection, known as The Collection. The Other Extension, is a significant one as it marks the completion of the presentation of the works located on the ground floor of the Villanueva Building, as envisaged in the project.
With the opening to the public of these galleries, the Prado has significantly expanded the display of its holdings of Spanish paintings from the Romanesque to the Renaissance. Rearranged and enlarged, the selection of works on display in this new exhibition space allows the visitor to enjoy a comprehensive survey of the principal trends in Spanish painting that arose between the 12th and 16th century. The display opens with the Romanesque frescoes from the Vera Cruz de Maderuelo and San Baudelio de Berlanga, followed by the large altarpieces by Rodríguez de Toledo and Nicolás Francés, and by paintings by Luis Alincbrot, Fernando Gallego, Bermejo, Paolo de San Leocadio, Pedro Berruguete and Juan de Flandes. Having reached the High Renaissance and Mannerism, the display focuses on works by Fernando Yáñez, Machuca, Correa de Vivar and Juan de Juanes. It concludes with the Mannerist spirituality of the panel paintings by Luis de Morales, an artist particularly well represented in the Prado.
The seven galleries now devoted to this part of the Prado’s collection, most of which have been returned to use as display space after various technical departments were moved into the new building opened in 2007, are located around the Lower Goya Rotunda. Due to its particular shape, it has been decided to use the Rotunda to display a selection of works from the Museum’s collection of classical sculpture. With the intention of housing the display of Spanish art and facilitating visitor access, this area of the Villanueva Building was re-modelled to a design by Rafael Moneo, the architect responsible for the Museum’s new extension. He has also been responsible for the new design of Room 51C, in which a recreation of the original architectural setting allows for an evocative display of the Romanesque wall paintings from San Baudelio de Berlanga (Soria) and from the chapel of the Vera Cruz de Maderuelo (Segovia).
Prior to their new display, a number of the works in question were restored, as was the spectacular Gothic tracery of the frame around Bartolomé Bermejo’s painting of Saint Dominic. Other paintings were given new frames. The most ambitious restoration was undoubtedly that of the frescoes from the Romanesque chapel in Maderuelo, a project undertaken in collaboration with the Instituto Patrimonio Cultural de España (IPCE) and headed by Juan Ruiz. In addition, the Prado’s own restoration studio has restored works by Borrassa, Guerau Gener, Gonçal Peris, Pere Lembrí, Juan Sánchez, Juan de Nalda, the Master of the Luna and the Master of Robredo.
Among the frames restored is the one surrounding Saint Dominic by Bermejo. The upper section of its Gothic tracery was already in the collection of the Prado but its crossbars were in the collection of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional. They are now on long-term deposit with the Prado, enabling Bermejo’s masterpiece to regain its original appearance.