Some background

videos + essays

Link to the Prado's website

Diego Velázquez, <em>Portrait of Sebastián de Morra</em>
Diego Velázquez, Portrait of Sebastián de Morra

The compelling immediacy of Sebastián de Morra’s gaze has long struck viewers as noteworthy.

Anthonis Mor, <em>Portrait of Mary Tudor</em>
Anthonis Mor, Portrait of Mary Tudor

Queen of England and Ireland, Mary I's courage, iron will, and brutal impatience are captured in this likeness.

Juan de Pareja, <em>The Calling of Saint Matthew</em>
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, <em>The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables</em>
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, <em>The Garden of Earthly Delights</em>
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, <em>Adoration of the Shepherds</em>
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, <em>The Martyrdom of Saint Philip</em>
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, <em>The Annunciation and Life of the Virgin</em> (c. 1426)
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, <em>Dormition (or Death) of the Virgin</em>
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, <em>Las Meninas</em>
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, <em>The Family of Charles IV</em>
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, <em>Vulcan’s Forge</em>
Diego Velázquez, Vulcan’s Forge

Don’t strike the messenger! Interrupted at his forge, a horrified Vulcan looks ready to hammer Apollo.