27th November 2018 –the Prado Museum

Around 11am, with beanie and merino layers, I walked in the direction of the Plaza Mayor; not aiming to reach it only seeking food that would suit me. Passed a closed Vegan restaurant – which also stayed closed in the evening. Eventually I settled without excitement to more bread-based food and had a Spanish omelette which was incredibly salty.  I wanted to enjoy the moment as the T-shirt pictured below suggested, but it never happened.IMG_4998.JPGThe problem continued all day. Can’t remember last when I had plain vegetables and I am really suffering the lack.  Perhaps I should have booked myself an apartment and cooked my own.

Enjoyed walking along a street which contained lots of fabric shops.  The pattern on the left-hand fabric in the first photo below reminded me of the tiles on Gaudi’s first house (Casa Vicens) in Barcelona – not the same but with some similarities or so it seemed to me.  I wonder whether it is time for me to return to my sewing/textile past.IMG_4983.JPG

IMG_4985.JPGAnd here is one for the knitters – Ros, Jeanette, and Anne.  These ‘balls’ of wool were larger than my head.IMG_4988.JPG

IMG_4989.JPGSome general photos of the streets.IMG_4994.JPG


IMG_4996.JPG  Wandered back past a laundry. Returned to my hotel and took a pair of jeans up. No, they couldn’t wash them.  This pair of jeans could probably stand up and walk on their own by now.

Over to the Prado Museum for my 1pm entry.  Complete schemozzle with the bag storage and checking process and the collection of elderly smart woman with their fur coats pushing in and around everyone exacerbated my bad humour.  Finally, once I was through the process, I realised I didn’t have my ticket which gave me free access to the current temporary exhibitions – of course it was in the now stored bag.  Thankfully, when I asked at the internal reception if it was important to have the ticket, I must have looked and sounded particularly hassled so that a new one was printed for me.

Spent time in the temporary exhibition of Bartolome Bermejo and was dispirited by all the super sad looking depictions of Christ and the people around him.  Not uplifting.IMG_5002.JPG

IMG_5006.JPGLooked at a small focused exhibition around Jan van Eyck’s La Fuente de la Gracia before spending time in a temporary show of a selection from the permanent collection of key works collected since 1819.  Had trouble working out where exhibitions were located, and security attendants were rude and dismissive.  By then, from all my experiences including those at my hotel, I had decided that people in Madrid are not friendly (except for my hair cutter).

My goal for the Prado visit was see the work of Francisco de Goya. His paintings were separated over three floors and I started on the ground floor.  It was instructive to see so many and to gain an appreciation of how his work altered from the colourful images of the 1770s and 80s to the dark ‘black’ paintings in the early decades of the 19th century.  There was a no photographing rule I sensed although I never saw any sign.  However, surreptitiously, I snapped a few to remind me of bits and pieces of ideas I thought interesting, while listening to others who photographed openly being verbally savaged by the guards.

On one floor was his Nude Maja and on another his clothed version.  The guards around the second stayed close to that painting so I could never get a shot for the contrast. Of course, these pictures are reproduced endlessly so all is not lost.  But the fact that I found particularly instructive was the sizes and relative sizes of his work – by taking photos I had some sort of record of scale.  Some/many pictures were so large that I couldn’t imagine the process for manufacturing a canvas that size in that era. Nor could I imagine the physical mechanics of actually painting across those very large surfaces.  Anyway, the following photos make sense to me, but I recognise they do not do justice to the artist. IMG_5022.JPG




IMG_5011.JPG      IMG_5012.JPG

IMG_5014.JPGAnd then there was the painting which (I decided) introduced McDonalds to the world; a bread bun being delivered from heaven by a raven.IMG_5019.JPGLearned there was a practice perpetuated on the foolish 3 or 4 centuries ago.  Medicos/shonkies would ‘operate’ and removed a stone from a person’s head to cure madness.  Here is one such image.IMG_5015.JPGAfter 6 or more hours I decided enough was enough. I had seen the key paintings and more by Goya, Velasquez, El Greco, luscious Rubens, Tiepolo, and a gorgeous fresh Manet.  There was much more I didn’t see. But I asked myself the question, would it add value to my life to see the rest.  I decided it would not. Even though I have a ticket for another visit tomorrow I won’t be using it.

I returned to my hotel and found they still hadn’t replaced my towels. This time I was firmer at reception, even though they were incredulous that the housekeeper had removed the used and hadn’t left any replacements.  It was like I was making the mistake. Needless to say, before too long they were brought to my door. This poor service along with a failing telephone service, intermittent internet and off handedness at reception has not impressed me.

I headed out into the darkened cold streets for food. Christmas decorations are proliferating.IMG_5027.JPGSat down at an outdoor café with heaters and ordered a much-deserved red wine. Joined by two wonderful women from New York and we enjoyed a good evening dining together.  Photo by Patty of Joy, myself wearing June’s possum, and Patty:image2.jpeg

My ceviche of Sea Bass in lime juice with slivers of celery and corn kernels was refreshing and totally delicious.  In the absence of any vegetables today I will return for more.  Then I balanced that healthy dish with a small dish of tripe which also contained a little pork and chorizo, washed down with a second excellent red.

Today was exhausting; the mental fatigue of looking and thinking for so many hours took its toll.  I skipped writing this blog post, collapsed into bed and slept.


2 thoughts on “27th November 2018 –the Prado Museum

    • In the last half of the last century the minimalist and conceptual art will seem very bland and probably be as incomprehensible as medieval and renaissance art is to most of us – that is the codes and symbols are for current knowledge. On this basis I think we may look a miserable lot. As for this century’s art so far I think much of it continues the trend of last century. Even Mary’s figurative work is really quite awful at one level.


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