Museo Nacional del Prado

June 28, 2011

Following are a few of my favorite works that I saw at the Prado during my visits there this month.

Altarpiece of Saint Christopher

14th Century

This small altarpiece, divided into three horizontal and three vertical rows, is dedicated to Saint Christopher, who protects against sudden death. His image occupies the central row, which is topped by the Crucifixion.

Altarpiece of the lives of the Virgin and Saint Francis

Maestro Nicolás Francés

This altarpiece consists of nine large panels plus the eighteen that make up the predella. The main scene is The Virgin with the Christ Child surrounded by Angel Musicians, which is completed with five scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin in the right and central areas, and three scenes from the life of saint Francis, in the left area. All of them are framed with gothic ogee tracery.

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch

The open triptych shows three scenes. The left panel is dedicated to Paradise, with the creation of Eve and the fountain of life, while the right panel shows hell. The central panel gives its name to the entire piece, representing a garden of life’s delights or pleasures. Between paradise and hell, these delights are nothing more than allusions to sin, showing humankind dedicated to diverse worldly pleasures.

The Triumph of Death

Pieter Brueghel “the Elder”
c. 1562

In this moral work, the triumph of Death over mundane things is symbolized by a large army of skeletons razing the Earth. The background is a barren landscape in which scenes of destruction are still taking place. In the foreground, Death leads his armies from his reddish horse, destroying the world of the living. The latter are led to an enormous coffin with no hope for salvation.