Virtually explore the Prado with Smarthistory as your guide
videos + essays
Juan de Pareja, The Calling of Saint Matthew
An extraordinary statement of freedom, Pareja includes his self-portrait in this famous biblical narrative.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables
The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables is the most famous painting by the most acclaimed Spanish painter of the latter half of the seventeenth century
Spotlight — Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights
An imagined garden teeming with curious creatures and bizarre structures. What are we to think?
El Greco, Adoration of the Shepherds
Wild! Everything seems transient in this otherworldly scene, but El Greco’s bold colors stay with us.
Jusepe de Ribera, The Martyrdom of Saint Philip
Ribera depicts the moment before St. Philip’s death, yet the martyr’s body distorts and collapses before our eyes.
Fra Angelico, The Annunciation and Life of the Virgin (c. 1426)
With its sumptuous foliage and gold detail, this painting celebrates the decorative and captures the spiritual.
Andrea Mantegna, Dormition (or Death) of the Virgin
Mantegna’s draped figures resurrect classical sculpture, but the landscape was from life—that’s Renaissance Mantua.
Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas
This puzzling painting about painting is half genre scene, half family portrait. But what’s on the large canvas?
Francisco Goya, The Family of Charles IV
Goya depicts the king’s family in scintillating detail… but the sparkle of the monarchy is beginning to fade.
Diego Velázquez, Vulcan’s Forge
Don’t strike the messenger! Interrupted at his forge, a horrified Vulcan looks ready to hammer Apollo.
Diego Velázquez, Los Borrachos (The Drunks), or The Triumph of Bacchus
Velázquez lends immediacy and gritty realism to a mythological subject. We are right there, ready to partake.
Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring One Of His Sons
Goya’s taste in home décor is called into question by this cannibalistic meditation on the nature of power.