|The Museo del Prado|
The Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It features one of the world’s finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of other types of works. A new, recently opened wing enlarged the display area by about 400 paintings, and it is currently used mainly for temporary expositions. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in the world, and it is considered to be among the greatest museums of art. The large numbers of works by Francisco de Goya, the artist most extensively represented in the collection, and by Diego Velázquez, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch are among the highlights of the collection.
The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of other works of art and historic documents. By 2014 the Museum will be displaying about 1300 works in the main buildings, while around 3,100 works are on temporary loan to various museums and official institutions. The remainder are in storage. The museum received 2.8 million visitors in 2012.
The best-known work on display at the museum is Las Meninas by Velázquez. Velázquez not only provided the Prado with his own works, but his keen eye and sensibility were also responsible for bringing much of the museum’s fine collection of Italian masters to Spain.
This gallery in Madrid has the most complete collection of Spanish painting from 11th-18th centuries, and numerous masterpieces by great universal artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Bosch, Titian, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.
The quality and variety of its collection makes the Prado one of the world’s best-endowed museums. It combines a first-class collection of Spanish painting, the most important works of the Flemish and Italian schools, and various fine examples of the German, French and English schools. It is home to numerous masterpieces of universal art such as Las Meninas by Velázquez, the two Majas by Goya, Nobleman with his hand on his chest by El Greco, the Garden of Delights by Bosch, and The Three Graces by Rubens, among other priceless pieces. Although the museum was created to house primarily works of painting and sculpture, it also contains major collections of drawings, engravings, coins and medals, as well as items of clothing and decorative art.The museum’s exhibition area was increased by more than 50% in 2007 with the extension designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. The new area includes four rooms for temporary exhibitions, the restored cloister of the church of Los Jerónimos, a large entrance hall, an auditorium seating 438 people, as well as various storage facilities and workshops for the restoration of artworks. Elements worth noting on the exterior include the impressive bronze doors by Cristina Iglesias and the Tuscan box gardens.
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums contain masterpieces of painting, sculpture and other works of art collected by the popes through the centuries. The Museums include several monumental works of art, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Chapel of Beato Angelico, the Raphael Rooms and Loggia and the Borgia Apartment.
The Pinacoteca, or Picture Gallery, is situated in a building that dates back to 1932 and that was designed by the architect Beltrami. It is connected to the Museum complex (at the entrance of the Quattro Cancelli) by an elegant portico.
The Christian, Profane and Missionary-Ethnological Museum contains a collection of artistic and archaeological objects, some of an ethnological nature, that were once housed in the Lateran Palace.
The Collection of Modern Religious Art was added to the Museums in 1973. The History Museum is located in the Lateran Palace and includes, among other things, items that belonged to the Pontifical Military Corps.
The Museums are usually open to the public every weekday morning and in the early afternoon in summer. Entry is free on the last Sunday of every month. The entrance to the Museums is on Viale Vaticano, near Piazza Risorgimento.
A Workshop for Restoring paintings, bronzes, marble, tapestries and other items, is part of the Museums which also includes a Scientific Research Laboratory.
The Sistine Capella. The Sistine Chapel is named after his commissioner, Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471-1484), who decided to have a large room built where the “Cappella Magna” once stood. The “Cappella Magna” was a mediaeval fortified hall that the Papal Court used for assemblies.
Pinacoteca. The building of the Pinacoteca, completed in 1931, was commissioned by Pius IX (1922 -1939), expressly to house a collection of paintings, belonging to various popes and started by Pius VI (1775-1799). Many of the paintings on exhibit were taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1797, but returned to Italy after the Congress of Vienna (1815), thanks also to the intercession of the sculptor Antonio Canova. The works, covering a period from the Middle Ages to 1800, are set in chronological order, in eighteen rooms.
Rafael’s Rooms. The “Vatican Rooms” were actually the apartments of Pope Julius II (1503-1513), who did not want to live in the rooms inhabited by his predecessor Alexander VI and frescoed by Pinturicchio, and, therefore, moved to the floor above into a wing built by Nicholas V in the 15th century. More famous artists such as Raphael’s master, Perugino, had already worked on the rooms, but Pope Julius II gave Raphael (1483-1520) complete license and he erased all previous work.
Egyptian Museum. The museum was founded by Gregory XVI (1831-1846) in the Lateran Palace in 1884 and John XXIII had it relocated in the Vatican in 1970. It contains Greek original works, Roman copies and sculptures dating from the 1st to the 3rd c. A.D. The most famous group is Athena and Marsyas, a copy of a Greek original by Myron (c. 450 B.C.). Inaugurated by Pius XI in 1926, this museum was also moved from the Lateran Palace. The collection consists of artworks and historical vestiges from missions all over the world. There are some interesting models of non-Catholic places of worship, such as Beijing’s Temple of the Sky (originally from the 15th century but re-done in the 18th century), the Altar of Confucius and the Shintoist Temple of Nara, Japan’s ancient capital city. The Buddhist devotional statues are testimonies of spiritual life in Tibet, Indonesia, India and the Far East; the findings of Islamic and Central African culture are also interesting, and so are objects and works of art, especially from Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
The Etruscan Museum. Going back to the Simonetti Staircase, the visitor may either visit the Etruscan Museum, housed in the Palace of Innocent VIII (1484-1492) or move on to Raphael’s Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. Founded in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI, the museum contains vases, bronzes and other archaeological findings from southern Etruria, a large collection of Hellenistic Italian vases and some Roman pieces (Antiquarium Romanorum). In Room II is the notable Regolini-Galassi tomb and Rooms IV-VIII, known as of the “Precious”, exhibit gold jewellery realized by Etruscan goldsmiths during the ten centuries of their civilization.
Borgia Appartment. This was a private wing built for Alexander VI (1492-1503) and decorated by Bernardo di Betto, called il Pinturicchio and his assistants. After the pontiff’s death, the work on the apartments stopped. They were only re-opened to the public at the end of the 19th century. Most of the rooms are now used for the Collection of Modern Religious Art, inaugurated by Paul VI in 1973. This Collection hosts about 600 accumulated works of painting, sculpture and graphic, through donations of contemporary Italian and foreign artists and includes works by Gaugin, Chagall, Klee and Kandinskij.
Gallery of the Candelabra. Originally an open loggia built in 1761, the loggia was walled up at the end of the 18th century. The ceiling was painted in 1883-1887. The gallery contains Roman copies of Hellenistic originals (3rd-2nd century B.C.) and some great 2nd century candelabra, from Otricoli.
Chariot Room. This late 18th century room contains a large marble Roman chariot drawn by two horses, dating from the 1st century A.D., but heavily restored in 1788. The copy of the famous Discobolus found in Villa Adriana at Tivoli, from a bronze Greek original by Myron (c. 460 B.C.) is also displayed here.
Gallery of Maps. It takes its name from the 40 maps frescoed on the walls, which represent the Italian regions and the papal properties at the time of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585). They were painted between 1580 and 1585 on drawings by Ignazio Danti, a famous geographer of the time. Considering the Apennines as a partition element, on one side the regions surrounded by the Ligure and Tyrrhenian Seas are represented; on the other, the regions surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. The map of the main city accompanies each regional map.
Historical Museum – Carriage Pavilion. This museum was founded by Paul VI in 1973 and is located in a large room under the Square Garden. It contains saddles, carriages, automobiles and sedan chairs used by various popes. Curiosities include some 19th century carriages, a model of Vatican City’s first train engine (1929) and a Berlin built for Leo XII, used by popes for gala occasions until Pius XI’s time.
The Carriage Pavilion is a section of the Historical Museum and since 1991 it has been in the Papal Apartment of the Lateran Apostolic Palace.
Vatican Courtyards. After passing the Atrium of the “Corazze” on the left, and crossing the Atrium with its Four Gates, the visitor enters the Courtyard of the “Pigna”, created from the 16th century area of the “Belvedere”. Donato Bramante was asked to design the Courtyard of the “Belvedere” by Julius II in 1506, to connect the Palace of Innocent VIII (1484-1492) with the Sistine Chapel, built by Sixtus IV (1471-1484). Originally the Courtyard was on three levels, joined by elegant stairways and flanked by galleries characterized by pilasters surmounted by broad arches. Both the paving and the galleries were slightly angled towards the Sistine Chapel, so that from the papal apartments the courtyard looked even bigger than it actually was.
A large niche, planned at its northern end to complete the perspective, was realized, as it can now be seen in the so-called Courtyard of the “Pigna”, by architect Pirro Ligorio in 1565, using the Pantheon dome as a model. The picturesque prints from the early 16th century give an idea of the festivals and carousels that used to take place there. The Courtyard of the “Belvedere” was divided into two parts at the end of the 16th century, when Sixtus V (1585-1590) built a wing of the Library across it. Another transversal building was added in 1822, called the “Braccio Nuovo”, intended for a collection of statues. There are now three courtyards in the area: the Courtyard of the “Pigna”, the Library Courtyard and the Courtyard of the “Belvedere”.
The Courtyard of the “Pigna” is named after a colossal bronze pinecone, almost 4 metres high, which, in the classic age, stood near the Pantheon in Rome, known as the “Pigna quarter”; it was probably first moved to the atrium of the ancient St Peter’s Basilica during the Middle Ages and then moved here in 1608. Two bronze peacocks, copies of 2nd century A.D. originals in the Braccio Nuovo, flank the pinecone. In the middle of the wide-open space are two concentric spheres by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro (1990).
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence
The Uffizi Gallery (Italian: Galleria degli Uffizi), is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City: It is also referred to as ‘The Met’ and it is of great importance in the field of Arts and it is one of the largest museums in the world, located in Manhattan in New York started on Feb 20, 1872. It displays excellent exhibits of highest quality which almost cover all the aspects of human achievement like music, arts, architecture, etc. The goal is to preserve the knowledge in advanced arts, to carry out extensive studies on the art and to provide a platform for appreciation for the arts.Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity and Ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met also maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine, and Islamic art. The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world. Several notable interiors, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met’s galleries.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens. The founders included businessmen and financiers, as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day, who wanted to open a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, and was originally located at 681 Fifth Avenue.
The Met’s permanent collection is cared for and exhibited by seventeen separate curatorial departments, each with a specialized staff of curators and scholars, as well as four dedicated conservation departments and a department of scientific research.
Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity and Ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met also maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine and Islamic art. The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world. A number of notable interiors, ranging from 1st century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met’s galleries.
In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the Met organizes and hosts large traveling shows throughout the year.