Madrid is one of the European capitals with a greater artistic heritage. The numerous museums located in the city contain a large quantity of works of all styles and pictorial movements, well known by the general public. Come and visit Madrid with the high-speed trains Renfe-SNCF en Coopération and get into the galleries of the most famous museums. Do not miss these 10 works of art you need to see at least once in life!
It is really hard to make a list with the best paintings of the exhibition halls in Madrid. However, either by its story or by its painters some have become a reference and are well known all over the world. We want to make a list of all those paintings you will see if you go to Madrid and you have to look at, no matter what, in person.
1. GUERNICA – PABLO PICASSO, 1937
Mural of the painting "Guernica"- Papamanila , Wikimédia Commons
It is one of the icons of the twentieth century Spanish art exhibited in the Museo Reina Sofia. It was painted by Picasso in 1937, one month after the bombing in the town of Guernica (Basque Country) by the Condor Legion of Germany and the Italian warplanes. It was an order from the Government of the Republic to be displayed at the Paris International Exhibition held that year. The painting was exhibited in New York until 1981, the year in which the work was returned to Spain.
2. THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS – HIERONYMUS BOSCH (EL BOSCO), 1500-1505
The painting, displayed at the Museo del Prado, is formed from a square middle panel flanked by two other rectangular wings that close over the center as shutters. The outer wings, when folded, show the third day of Creation. Inner scenes represent, from left to right, the paradise, luxury and sin, and hell. It is known for being one of the most used paintings on the covers of art books.
3. LA MENINAS – DIEGO VELÁZQUEZ, 1656
Las Meninas - Calliopejen1, Wikimédia Commons
It is one of the most popular paintings by Velázquez and one of the greatest attractions of the Museo del Prado. The middle of the painting shows the Infanta Margarita, daughter of king Felipe IV and Mariana de Austria, together with María Agustina Sarmiento and Isabel de Velasco, meninas (maids of honor) of the queen.
4. THE THREE GRACES – PEDRO PABLO RUBENS, 1636-1639
It is a painting that belongs to the stage of the Baroque painting of the Flemish school exhibited in the galleries of the Museo del Prado. The work depicts the three Graces of the Greek mythology, Aglaia, Talia and Euphrosyne, totally naked. The three daughters of Zeus represent love, beauty, fertility and sexuality.
5. VIEW OF THE PIAZZA SAN MARCO IN VENICE – CANALETTO, 1750
Piazza San Marco, Canaletto - Oursana, Wikimédia Commons
This Italian baroque painting shows the famous Venetian square of San Marco and stands out for its brightness. Canaletto was one of the most prestigious painters of the time in Italy and painted several times the Piazza San Marco.
6. THE GREAT MASTURBATOR – SALVADOR DALÍ, 1929
It is one of the most famous works of the Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and is displayed at the Museo Reina Sofía. The painting, with an important sexual connotation, is highly biographical and reflects some of the fears and obsessions of the artist.
7. LES VESSENOTS IN AUVERS – VAN GOGH, 1890
View of Vessenots Near Auvers - DcoetzeeBot, Wikimédia Commons
The painting by Van Gogh, displayed at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, depicts a country cottage surrounded by fields of wheat. It is characterized by the predominance of yellow and green and the turbulent and nervous lines, typical of the final period of the artist.
8. GIRL AT A WINDOW – SALVADOR DALÍ, 1925
It is a surrealist painting by Salvador Dalí that belongs to his training stage and displayed at the Museo Reina Sofía. It depicts the artist’s sister looking out the window of one of the rooms of the house the family owned in Cadaqués.
9. LA MAJA VESTIDA (THE CLOTHED MAJA) / LA MAJA DESNUDA (THE NUDE MAJA) – FRANCISCO DE GOYA, 1800-1808
La maja vestida - Escarlati, Wikimédia Commons
La maja vestida and her ‘sister’, La maja desnuda, are two iconic works of the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. These paintings depict the same female figure, one dressed and the other nude. It is not known for sure who the woman portrayed is, but it seems to be the thirteenth Duchess of Alba. These two controversial works were claimed by the Spanish Inquisition for being obscene paintings and were finally displayed at the Museo del Prado in 1901.
10. PORTRAIT OF GIOVANNA TORNABUONI – GHIRLANDAIO, 1488
It is one of the most popular works of the Italian artist Domenico Ghirlandaio. The Renaissance painting is exhibited in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and depicts a woman of the Italian aristocracy, Giovana degli Albizzi.