The Dance of the Maenads

The Prado’s sculpture collection numbers more than 900 works, in addition to around 200 fragments. Most are classical, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures and works from the 18th- and 19th-centuries, but the Museum also possesses some Oriental and Medieval pieces.

The first group derives from the royal collection and principally comprises Greco-Roman sculptures in addition to Renaissance bronzes by artists such as the Leoni, who executed sculpted portraits of the Spanish monarchs in the 16th-century. With the importation of sculptures from Italy, the taste for the classical revived in 17th-century Spain. This was in fact one of the main reasons for Velázquez’s second trip to Italy, and during his stay in Rome he was involved in the selection of works on behalf of Felipe IV. Particularly important were the acquisitions made in the 18th-century by Felipe V and his wife, Isabel de Farnesio, who purchased the collection of Queen Christina of Sweden, to which that of José Nicolás de Azara was later added.

With regard to acquisitions (works that have added up to the Museum’s collection apart from the royal collection or the union with collections of other museums today missing), we must stand out the small but significant group donated by Mario Zayas in 1944, an area not represented by a single work in the Spanish royal collection. Other important 20th-century acquisitions are the two sculptures of Epimetheus and Pandora by El Greco that became part of the collection by donation.

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