Art has taught us to live. He has taught us to endure. To see beauty in difficult moments (especially in these times). Art is everywhere. It is omnipresent and subjective (precisely therein lies its beauty). And all you have to do … is look.

With these statements in the background, we walk along with Antonio Sánchez Lake, official guide of Madrid and graduate in Art History, the spectacular Prado Museum in Madrid to discover which corners are worth visiting in one morning.

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“Visiting a museum depends largely on how are you in the mood that day. In any case, visits to museums must be balanced and fair. One cannot be drunk on art because it would end fatally … as it usually happens with all drunkenness “, the expert confesses laughing.

“You have to be selective and first choose a reasonable schedule where interest is always maintained. That is why we recommend visits that last an hour and a half or two at most. It is the key to success to maintain interest and even want to repeat “.

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Why the Prado Museum

The meadow it’s a essential museum for its particularity. “I have worked and accompanied art historians from around the world. Painting specialists who, logically, are making the visit but always need a person to guide them through the museum, who knows the work and where it is. They always agree that the Prado Museum is a must.

If we look closely, the rest of the museums have been built in an encyclopedic way. “They have been acquiring works to complete a historical cycle: starting with the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque … but not the Prado Museum. Its foundation is the Royal collection, what was the most important painting collection in 16th and 17th century Europe; the mirror in which other royal collections were looked at, such as the English or French “.

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Sanchez Lake tells us, with the enthusiasm of someone who is fascinated by his profession, that in him we find the great masters represented in a superlative way: “There is no such unit as in other museums because the kings collected only what they liked.

And also – he adds – because the Prado it is a self-referential museum. “Most of the teachers who are represented in it they saw their own works directly in the royal collection.

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He recommends ‘Reencuentro’, an exhibition to understand the entire museum collection

We know that it is difficult for an art historian to be left with only one option, but he does not hesitate when we ask him for a key journey. “The ‘Reunion’, without a doubt. It offers the unique opportunity to see practically the entire history of classical painting in an hour and a half”, qualifies our guide.

“It is a very special exhibition that arises as consequence of the pandemic – in fact it is the first to start up after confinement – and helps us to understand in a morning the whole collection of this emblematic building “.

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‘Reunion’, which is extended until February 28, connects us directly with the history of painting, but also with the universal history of art, “since here we have selected the most relevant teachers of humanity “. A project that has meant relocation of more than 190 pieces and evokes the existing museography when the Prado first opened its doors.

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“They wanted to organize, taking into account all sanitary and hygienic rules, an exhibition in a longitudinal area and that is why they opted for the Upper Gallery, where you enter through one door and exit through another “, Antonio explains to us. And what was the result? For for the first time we find The Annunciation of Fra Angelico, The Descent of Van der weyden, Los Saturno by Goya and Rubens, Las Meninas, Las Hilanderas and an exceptional ‘altarpiece’ made up of the jesters of Velazquez. “A meticulous selection of work in which they agreed to all curators and directors of areas of the Museum“.

If we are left wanting more …

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Now that, fortunately, other rooms are opening, and being such a rich museum with so many possibilities, teacher proposes us a alternative itinerary, the one of Baroque. “It is a very interesting historical period and in painting it was fundamental. In the Prado Museum we have a very important amount of work, not only Spanish, but also Italian, French, we have the Madrid baroque … “

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As icing on the cake, he invites us to tour the new Bosco room. “There we have ten works by El Bosco… the museums of the world would slap each other for having them “.

And when the museum is fully open? Well, many others. “This museum also has a collection of awesome luxury items how is the dolphin treasure … it has unlimited possibilities.

Let’s not stop looking

Look

To be interested in this world, the historian bets on a direct encounter with the work. “Above books, movies … When you find it face to face is when you start to fall in love, to be interested. Even with modern painting, which is less understood. It is preferable to go without knowing anything about it to avoid external prejudices, connect and let it surprise us“.

Antonio says goodbye, recognizing that the greatest gratitude for his work is that people are left wanting to return. Of wanting to see more. “When I guide people I help them to look. There are millions of things that we do not look at and that are key to understanding things. I like to reveal to people those things that they do not normally see … To stop. Because in the end art is the only thing that will save us … “

Photos | Courtesy of El Museo del Prado