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Discover the Most Famous Paintings of the Prado Museum in Madrid

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, is a renowned art institution housing an exceptional collection of European masterpieces.

With 8,000 artworks, of which only 1713 are on display, the Prado Museum highlights showcase the finest works of renowned artists like Velázquez, Goya, Rubens, Bosch, and many more.

The Prado Museum in Madrid is a must-visit for art enthusiasts worldwide.

While the Prado is packed with masterpieces, a few artists and periods stand out.

Here is a list of the top Prado Museum highlights and famous paintings that you shouldn’t miss.

1. Saturn Devours His Son

Artist: Francisco de Goya
Date: 1820.
Location: Room 067

Saturn Devours His Son- Prado Museum highlights
Image: Wikipedia.org


Saturn devouring his son is part of a collection of 14 works known as black paintings because of their dark colors and somber subject matter.

It is a painting that amazes with the terror produced by the gaze of God and is part of a collection of Gayo paintings in the Prado Museum.

It is one of the fourteen Black Paintings, a series of murals that Goya painted on the walls of his Quinta del Sordo (House of the Deaf Man) in Madrid. 

Saturn Devouring His Son depicts the Greek myth of Cronus, the Titan God of Time, who devoured his children, fearing they would overthrow him. 

In the painting, Saturn is depicted as a monstrous, hulking figure with a wild mane of hair, hunching over a young child, his mouth open wide as he devours the child’s head. 

The child’s body is limp and lifeless, and its limbs are twisted in agony.

This Prado Museum highlights the painting’s dark colors and somber subject matter, reflecting Goya’s dark mood during this period.

There is often an interpretation that the child Saturn is devouring represents the future or the potential for change.

This act of cannibalism can be seen as a metaphor for destroying the future or suppressing new ideas.

Saturn Devouring His Son is a powerful work of art that fascinates and disturbs viewers even today.

2. The Crucifixion

Artist: Juan de Flandes
Date: 1509
Location: Room 057 of the Prado

The Crucifixion
Image: Wikipedia.org


The Crucifixion Panel, painted by Juan de Flandes for the cathedral of Palencia, is a renowned masterpiece of Hispano-Flemish art.

The work was part of the altarpiece and 10 other paintings and is considered the best among them. This Prado Museum highlight depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at night. 

The scene is bathed in a dark and sad light, and the figures are rendered in sharp relief. The Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist flank the central figure of Christ. 

Mary Magdalene kneels at the foot of the cross, and three angels collect the blood of Christ.

It is notable for using light and color to create a dramatic and emotionally charged scene. 

The dark background sets off the figures in sharp relief, and the contrasting colors of the red blood and the blue sky add to the drama. 

It also features some Italianate elements, such as the pose of Mary Magdalene, which recalls the work of Italian Renaissance artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo.

This painting was likely commissioned for the altarpiece’s attic in Madrid’s Augustine College of Maria de Aragón church. 

It is one of four paintings by Morales that are thought to have been part of this altarpiece.

3. The Descent from the Cross

Artist: Rogier Van Der Weyden
Year: Before 1443
Location: Room 024

Descent from the Cross
Image: Wikipedia.org



Rogier Van der Weyden’s masterpiece features stunning colors, technique, and a remarkable triptych from the early 15th century.

In the painting, three men lower Christ’s body from the cross, and he is still wearing the Crown of Thorns, and his wounds are visible.

This Prado Museum painting is notable for its use of color and light. The colors are vibrant, creating a sense of realism and immediacy. 

The light is soft and diffused, creating an atmosphere and mood. 

The figures are arranged in a pyramid-like composition, and they are all facing the viewer. This creates a sense of drama and tension, drawing the viewer into the scene.

The Descent from the Cross is a masterpiece of religious art. 

It is a powerful and moving depiction of the Passion of Christ, and it is a testament to the artistic skill of Rogier van der Weyden.

See this amazing Prado Museum highlight painting for yourself. Buy your tickets now!

4. The Annunciation

Artist: Fra Angelico
Year: 1426
Location: Room 024

The Annunciation
Image: Wikipedia.org

Fra Angelico, originally known as Guido di Piero, was a Renaissance painter in Florence. He became a priest, changed his name, and started painting.

“Annunciation” was initially controversial but was later recognized as a visionary and his best work.

In the center of the painting, Archangel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary is under a porch, and on the left, Adam and Eve are expelled from Paradise. 

It is a beautiful and serene depiction of the moment the Archangel Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive and bear the Son of God.

The painting is divided into two parts. The left side depicts Adam and Eve being expelled from paradise. 

This is a reminder of the fall of man, foreshadowing the redemption that will come through Christ. The right side depicts the Annunciation. 

The Archangel Gabriel is shown kneeling before Mary, seated in a room. 

Gabriel is holding a lily, which is a symbol of purity. Mary is holding a book, which is a symbol of her wisdom.

These two scenes are connected by a window, representing heaven and earth’s connection. 

This Prado Museum highlight is a beautiful and moving depiction of the Annunciation, and it is a reminder of the importance of faith and hope.

5. The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest

Artist: El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
Year: 1580
Location: Room 009B

The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest
Image: Wikipedia.org

This is the most popular of the six El Greco portraits at the Prado Museum. 

In this portrait, the sitter is dressed according to the Spanish fashion of the late 1570s, with a narrow, white ruff around his neck.

The sitter is dressed in black with a narrow, white ruff around his neck. 

His hand is resting on his chest, and his expression is one of thoughtful introspection.

This Prado Museum painting is notable for its elongated proportions and vivid colors. The figure is taller and thinner than natural, and the colors are rich and saturated. 

It also uses dramatic light and shadow, creating mystery and intrigue.

The sitter’s identity is unknown, but he is considered a Spanish nobleman. The painting was likely commissioned by the sitter himself or by his family.

It is a striking example of El Greco’s unique style and a masterpiece of Spanish Mannerist painting.

6. Dürer’s Self-Portrait

Artist: Albrecht Dürer
Date: 1498
Location: Room 055B

Dürer’s Self-Portrait
Image: Wikipedia.org

Dürer, a painter with high self-esteem,  used himself as a model to represent Jesus Christ.

He represented himself with the best clothes of the time and very flattering colors.

Dürer is depicted in a three-quarter view, with his head slightly to the right. He is wearing a black velvet doublet, a white shirt, and a fur-lined mantle. 

He holds a pair of gloves in his left hand, and his right hand rests on his hip. His expression is one of thoughtful introspection.

This Prado Museum painting is notable for its realistic detail and its use of symbolism. Dürer’s clothing is carefully rendered, and his features are depicted precisely. 

The gloves are a symbol of his status as an artist, and the fur-lined mantle is a symbol of his wealth and success.

The self-portrait with gloves is powerful and confident. 

It is a masterpiece of Northern Renaissance art and a testament to Dürer’s skill as an artist.

7. The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych

Artist: Hieronymus Bosch
Year: 1490 to 1500
Location: Room 056

The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych
Image: Wikipedia.org

The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych. A triptych is a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged vertically, and used as an altarpiece.

Bosch has tried to depict humanity’s fate in this stunning piece, as the Bible mentions.

It is a complex and figurative painting that can be interpreted differently. The triptych is divided into three panels. 

The left panel depicts the creation of the world and the fall of man. 

The central panel depicts the Garden of Earthly Delights, a paradise where humans indulge in various pleasures. 

Its right panel depicts Hell, where the damned are punished for their sins.

The figures are often grotesque and distorted, and the scenes are full of strange and fantastical creatures. 

It has also been interpreted as a warning against the dangers of sin or as a celebration of the joys of life.

8. May 3, 1808, in Madrid

Artist: Francisco Goya
Year: 1814
Location: Room 032

May 3, 1808, in Madrid
Image: Wikipedia.org


The painting of May 3, 1808, in Madrid by Spanish painter Francisco Goya is also known as ‘The Executions.’

It depicts the execution of Spanish patriots by the Napoleonic army’s firing squad as a retaliation for their uprising against the French occupation a day before.

The painting depicts a firing squad of French soldiers shooting a group of Spanish civilians. 

The civilians are lined up against a wall, blindfolded, and kneeling. The soldiers are firing their guns, and the smoke from the guns fills the air.

These Prado Museum highlights are a powerful indictment of war and violence and a reminder of the human cost of conflict.

It is a powerful and moving depiction of the execution of Spanish civilians by French forces during the Peninsular War. 

It is a reminder of the human cost of war and a call for peace.

Must-See Prado Museum Highlights 

Some of the Prado Museum’s must-see highlights are:

1. Diego Velazquez

The Prado Museum has the world’s best collection of Velazquez’s art.

Velazquez, a famous Spanish painter, changed how art looks with his special way of painting real things.

His artworks were different because he didn’t draw before he painted, which made his paintings look loose and personal. Many artists got ideas from him.

He used ideas from Italy, Flanders, and his hometown, Seville, to make Spanish-style art. 

Many of his paintings, including Las Meninas, are considered his best artwork.

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Las Meninas painting
Las Meninas
The Surrender at Breda
The Surrender at Breda
The Triumph of Bacchus
The Triumph of Bacchus
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 Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan
Apollo at the Forge of Vulcan
 Christ Crucified
Christ Crucified
Las Hilanderas
Las Hilanderas
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2. Francisco Goya

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, hailing from a small Aragonese village, rose to become Spain’s foremost artist.

The Prado Museum highlights boasts an extensive collection of his works, allowing you to trace his evolution from vibrant early portraits to the intense darkness of his later pieces—a personal favorite at the museum.

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The Family of Charles IV
The Family of Charles IV
La Maja Desnuda and La Maja Vestida
La Maja Desnuda and La Maja Vestida
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The Second and Third of May 1808
The Second and Third of May 1808
The Black Paintings
The Black Paintings
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3. Italian Art 

Italian artists have long been a significant part of the Spanish royal collection.

From Carlos V appointing Titian as his court painter to Philip IV sending Velazquez to Italy to acquire art, these Italian pieces have influenced Spanish painters for generations.

Best Works: Fra Angelico, The Annunciation; Raphael, The Holy Family and The Cardinal; Titian, Equestrian Portrait of Charles V, Venus, and Adonis; Danae, Danae Receiving the Golden Rain.

4. Flemish Art 

Belgium and the Netherlands used to be part of Spain’s Habsburg Empire long ago.

So, you’ll find amazing Flemish art at the Museo del Prado

It includes top works by artists like Rubens, Bosch, van der Weyden, and Rembrandt.

Exploring these northern masterpieces is a real treat at the Prado Museum.

Best Works: Hieronymus Bosch – The Garden of Earthly Delights; Rogier van der Weyden – The Descent from the Cross; Peter Paul Rubens – The Birth of the Milky Way and The Three Graces; Rembrandt – Artemisia.

What else is there to see?

FAQs 

What is the most famous picture in the Prado Museum?

Las Meninas by Velazquez is the most representative and famous painting in the Prado Museum.

It is one of the most enormous canvases, more than 3 meters wide and almost 3 meters high, of the Sevillian painter and his masterpiece.

What is the Prado Museum famous for?

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, is famous for its world-class collection of European art, including works by Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco.

How many paintings are there in the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum highlights a collection of  8,600 paintings and over 700 sculptures.

We recommend deciding what you want to see before stepping into the museum.

Are there any Picasso paintings in the Prado?

The Prado has expanded its collection to include more modern and contemporary art. 

In 2021, the museum acquired the Buste de Femme (Bust of a Woman) c. 1943 by Pablo Picasso, marking the first time a Picasso has been permanently displayed at the Prado.

Is there a Mona Lisa in the Prado?

The Prado’s Mona Lisa is the earliest known studio copy of Leonardo’s masterpiece. 

One of his students, probably Andrea Salai or Francesco Melzi, painted it in the same studio where Leonardo worked on his version. 

Also, Prado’s Mona Lisa is a beautiful and well-preserved painting. It is considered one of the best copies of the Mona Lisa ever made.

Which famous paintings by Velázquez can be found in the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum houses an impressive collection of Velázquez’s works, including the renowned “Las Meninas” and “The Surrender of Breda.”

These paintings are celebrated for their intricate detail, composition, and Velázquez’s mastery of light.

Are there any works by Goya in the Prado Museum’s collection?

Yes, the Prado Museum highlights an extensive collection of Goya’s paintings, showcasing his evolution as an artist.

Notable works include “The Third of May 1808,” “Saturn Devouring His Son,” and “The Clothed Maja,” each reflecting Goya’s critical eye and innovative techniques.

Can visitors see El Greco’s paintings at the Prado Museum?

Absolutely! The Prado Museum highlights several key works by El Greco, including “The Nobleman with His Hand on His Chest” and “The Adoration of the Shepherds.”

El Greco’s unique style, characterized by elongated figures and vibrant colors, is well represented.

What are some of the key Flemish and Dutch paintings in the Prado Museum?

The museum holds an exquisite selection of Flemish and Dutch masterpieces, such as “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch and “The Descent from the Cross” by Rogier van der Weyden.

Its works by Rubens and Rembrandt showcase the rich artistic heritage of Northern Europe.

How does the Prado Museum’s collection reflect the history of Spanish art?

The Prado Museum highlights provide a comprehensive overview of Spanish art history from the Renaissance to the 19th century.

It features works by Spanish masters such as Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, and Murillo, illustrating the evolution of Spanish art and its influence on and by European art movements.

Are there any notable Italian Renaissance paintings at the Prado Museum?

Yes, the Prado Museum is home to significant Italian Renaissance paintings, including works by Titian, Raphael, and Tintoretto.

These pieces highlight the Italian Renaissance’s emphasis on harmony, beauty, and the human form.

What unique features make the Prado Museum a must-visit for art lovers?

The Prado Museum’s unique appeal lies in its comprehensive collection of European art, with a particular focus on Spanish painting.

Its well-curated exhibits span from the 12th to the early 20th centuries, along with masterpieces by some of the greatest artists in history.

This makes it an essential visit for anyone interested in art and cultural heritage.

Featured Image: Museodelprado.es

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