Madrid is one of the European capitals with an exceptional artistic heritage. Madrid's many museums are home to a multitude of works of art, of all styles and artistic currents, which have made a name for themselves among the general public. Visit Madrid on Renfe's high-speed trains and discover the exhibition halls of the most famous museums. Don't miss the chance to see 10 must-see works of art that you have to see at least once in your life!
Drawing up a list of the best paintings exhibited in Madrid is an extremely difficult task. However, some of them have become benchmarks and are known the world over, either because of their history or because of the artists who painted them. Here's a list of the must-sees if you're visiting Madrid.
Housed in the Reina Sofía Museum, this painting is one of the icons of 20th-century Spanish art. Picasso painted it in 1937, a month after the town of Guernica (Basque Country) was bombed by German Condor Legion planes and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria. It was commissioned by the French government for the International Exhibition held in Paris that same year. The painting was exhibited in New York until 1981, when it was returned to Spain.
This triptych is on display at the Prado Museum. It consists of a central panel and two side panels painted on both sides, which can be closed as if they were a box. The closed shutters show the third day of the creation of the world. The inside of the left-hand panel refers to paradise, the central panel to lust and sin, while the right-hand panel represents hell. It is one of the most frequently reproduced works on art book covers.
It is Velázquez's most famous work and one of the main attractions of the Prado Museum. Infanta Maria Margaret, daughter of King Philip IV and Mary Anne of Austria, can be seen in the centre of the painting, surrounded by the queen's maids of honour (the Meninas) María Agustina Sarmiento and Isabel de Velasco.
This Flemish painting from the Baroque period is on display at the Prado Museum. It depicts the three Graces of Greek mythology, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, completely nude. The three daughters of Zeus symbolise love, beauty, fertility and sexuality.
This Italian Baroque work depicts the famous Saint Mark's Square in Venice, and stands out for its luminosity. Canaletto was one of the most prestigious painters of his time in Italy, and painted St Mark's Square on numerous occasions.
Housed in the Reina Sofía Museum, it is one of the best-known works by the Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. This painting, with its strong sexual connotations, is largely autobiographical and reflects some of the artist's fears and obsessions.
This painting by Van Gogh, housed in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, depicts a village surrounded by wheat fields. It is distinguished by the pre-eminence of yellow and green and the agitated, nervous features characteristic of works from the artist's last phase.
Created in a realistic style, this is an early work by Salvador Dalí that you will find at the Reina Sofía Museum. It shows the artist's sister from behind, looking out of the window of one of the rooms in the family home in Cadaqués.
The Clothed Maja and her 'sister', The Nude Maja, are two emblematic works by the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. These paintings depict the same female figure, clothed in one and nude in the other. No one knows for sure who the woman is, but rumour has it that she is the thirteenth Duchess of Alba. These two portraits sparked controversy and, having been judged obscene, were seized by the court of the Inquisition. It was not until 1901 that they were finally exhibited in the Prado Museum.
This is one of the best-known works by the Italian artist Domenico Ghirlandaio. This Renaissance-style painting is on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It depicts an Italian noblewoman, Giovanna degli Albizzi.
Many of the most famous paintings to be found in the Spanish capital are on show at the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía museums. Madrid also has a wealth of museums and exhibition halls that are a must for anyone interested in painting, sculpture and art in general.
Climb aboard Renfe's high-speed trains! From Atocha station, it will take you just ten minutes to get to the Reina Sofía Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza or the Prado!
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