Glad I arrived in good time for yesterday’s Prado bicentenary event at the National Gallery: there was not a spare seat in the auditorium to hear the illuminating conversation between the directors of two of the world’s most famous art galleries.
On stage were Miguel Falomir of Madrid’s Prado, and Gabriele Finaldi of London’s National Gallery. Their conversation was a way for London to wish the Prado ‘Feliz cumpleaños’ – Happy Birthday!
It was the start of a programme of events marking the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Museo del Prado. The museum opened back in 1819, set up by King Ferdinand VII of Spain to showcase the Royal Collection.
And what a collection it is: in addition to the Spanish greats Velázquez, El Greco, Murillo and Goya, the Museo del Prado boasts vast numbers of works by Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Bosch and Botticelli. The condition of these masterpieces is immaculate, noted National Gallery Director Gabriele Finaldi, because they have not suffered the trauma of cleaning or reframing which occurs when works of art change hands.
They were largely commissioned by the Spanish monarchs of the Golden Age and installed in their palaces where they remained until the Prado opened in 1819.
“The worst treatment they have suffered is benign neglect,” said Mr Finaldi.
Those who arrived in time to grab a seat in the auditorium enjoyed almost an hour listening to the two gallery directors share their knowledge.
The National Gallery runs an ongoing programme of talks and lectures, many of them free. Check out forthcoming events at their website: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/events
Find out more about cultural events organised by and with the support of the Instituto Cervantes in the UK here: https://londres.cervantes.es
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