A Detailed Overview of the Extensive Prado Museum Collection in Madrid

Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, also known as Museo del Prado, is one of Spain’s most important art museums. Prado's collection consists of European art from the 12th century to the early 20th century, including Spanish, Italian, and Flemish paintings. You will also find sculptures, photographs, drawings, and other artworks. Here's everything you need to know about the iconic art museum and its collection.

Discover the Prado Museum collection

Prado collection

The Prado Museum is often described as a museum of painters and not of paintings. The focus of the collection was directed towards renowned painters rather than simply acquiring famous paintings. For instance, the Prado collection has over 140 pieces by Goya. This resulted in an exclusive list of works by masters such as Hieronymus Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya. 

Prado Museum currently holds 7600 paintings. Some of the fascinating works on display include The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch, Portrait of a Cardinal by Raphael, and The Three Graces by Rubens.

Prado collection highlights | What to look out for

Prado collection

Spanish Paintings

The Prado Museum collection has around 2800 Spanish paintings on display. The department of Spanish Paintings boasts of works from the 12th century to the 19th century. The museum also focused on painters individually to exhibit their collections in depth. For example, the museum has 48 art pieces of Diego Velázquez, who belonged to the Spanish Golden Age of art. The same applies to Spanish romantic painter Francisco de Goya, who has 140 works on display. Other notable Spanish painters whose works are on display include El Greco, Juan de Flandes, Luis Meléndez, Pedro Berruguete, Luis de Morales, and more. The Spanish collection in Prado is displayed on the ground floor of the museum spread in seven galleries.

Prado Collection

Italian and French Paintings

Prado Museum’s collection of Italian paintings includes masters like Titian, Guido Reni, and Nicolas Poussin. Up until the 1500s, the Spanish Monarchs were not interested in commissioning Italian painters, but an important painter celebrated throughout the collection spree was Italian renaissance master Titian. Later, during the 16th century, some of the well-known Venetian painters made it into the gallery, namely Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, and Jacopo Bassano. In the 17th-century works of more artists from Italy and France were acquired. This includes Caravaggio, Luca Giordano, Guido Reni, and Georges de la Tour, to name a few. Some of the famous works on display in the museum are Antonello da Messina's The Dead Christ Supported by an Angel and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio.

Prado collection

Flemish Paintings & Northern Schools

There are over 1000 Flemish paintings in the Prado Museum collection. The oil painting technique became popular during the 15th and 17th centuries and was widespread in the Flemish region in Belgium. A joint rule in the Flemish period helped the Spanish Monarch buy the world's best Flemish paintings and display them in the Prado Museum. Notable Flemish painters whose work is featured in the museum include Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, and Rogier Van der Weyden. Van der Weyden's 15th-century painting ‘Descent from the Cross’ is one of the greatest paintings in European history. Other important artworks on display include Saint George and the Dragon by Raphael, Adoration of the Magi by Peter Paul Rubens, and The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 

Prado collection

19th Century Paintings

Prado Museum paintings from the 19th century are a large exhibit hung in the Villanueva Building. The collection was borrowed from Museo de Arte Moderno, the Spanish National Museum, in 1971 to display the paintings together. Today the 19th century Prado Museum Collection boasts of 2,690 artworks. Twelve galleries are dedicated to displaying art pieces ranging from neoclassical to romanticism themes. Works of Francisco Goya, Vicente López, Genaro Pérez Villaamil, and Antonio María Esquivel are displayed in this collection. Some of the most breathtaking paintings on display include The Death of Viriatus by José de Madrazo, Nude Boy on the Beach at Portici by Mariano Fortuny, and Boys on the Beach by Joaquin Sorolla.

Prado collection

Prints, Drawings, & Photographs

Prado Museum has a huge collection of prints, drawings, and photographs. It comprises 9,000 drawings, 6,000 prints, and nearly 10,000 photographs. Most of the artworks in the collection came from different sources, unlike the monarch-owned paintings and sculptures. One of the significant pieces of drawings from the royal collection is the ‘Ground-plan and Elevation of the Museum’ by Spanish architect Juan de Villanueva. It used to be hung in the retiring room of the monarchs. In 1931 Spanish aristocrat Pedro Fernández Durán passed on around 2000 remarkable drawings from the 16th to the 19th century, that included Michelangelo's early drawings for the Last Judgement fresco.

Prado Collection

Sculptures & Decorative Arts

The Prado Museum collection of sculptures includes around 1000 pieces. Most of them were created on the orders of past Spanish monarchs. There are some notable baroque, renaissance-era sculptures on display at the museum. Charles V and the Fury, a bronze sculpture of Emperor Charles V particularly noted for its exquisite characteristics, is a particularly noteworthy piece. Another important piece is the sculpture of Epimetheus and Pandora attributed to El Greco, carved out of wood and painted with oils. Decorative arts in the Prado Collection reach nearly 3500 objects. The most remarkable of all is The Dauphin’s Treasure. It is a group of vessels passed on to Spanish Bourbon King Philip V from his father. The collection includes vessels made of decorative hardstones adorned with gold, silver, diamonds, among other precious gems.

Visitor Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Check the museum's official website for current exhibitions, opening hours, and any special events.
  • Focus on Highlights: The Prado has an extensive collection, so plan to focus on the highlights if you have limited time. Key artists include Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco.
  • Audio Guide or Guided Tour: Consider using the museum's audio guide.
  • Must-See Works: Don't miss iconic works like Velázquez's "Las Meninas," Goya's "Third of May 1808," and Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights."
  • Take Your Time: The museum can be overwhelming due to its vast collection. Take your time in each gallery.
  • Mind the Rules: Follow the museum's rules, including not touching the artworks and maintaining a respectful distance from them.
  • Explore Surrounding Areas: The Prado is located in the "Golden Triangle of Art" alongside the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum. 
  • Respect the Art: Be mindful of your surroundings and fellow visitors.

Prado Museum tickets & tours

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Frequently asked questions about the Prado Museum collection

What is part of the Prado Museum collection?

The Prado Museum’s collection includes Italian, Spanish, Flemish paintings, 19th-century paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and decorative arts.

Do I need a ticket to see the Prado Museum collection?

Yes, you need a ticket to explore the Prado Museum’s collection. Tickets can be bought online.

How big is the Prado Museum collection?

The Prado Museum collection consists of about 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, and other additional artworks and historic documents

How much time do I need to see the entire Prado Museum collection?

We recommend spending about 2 to 3 hours to see the entire Prado Museum collection.

How do I book tickets to see the Prado collection?

Tickets to see the Prado Museum collection are available online.

How many paintings are part of the Prado Museum collection?

There are over 7600 paintings on display at the Prado Museum.

What are the best artworks of the Prado Museum collection?

Some of the best artworks that are part of the Prado collection are The Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden, The Cardinal by Raphael, Emperor Charles V at Muhlberg by Titian, and The Three Graces by Peter Paul Rubens.

Is the entire Prado collection on display?

No, the Prado Museum has removed from display some medieval paintings, but most of the stunning masterpieces are still available to see.

What sculptures are part of the Prado Museum collection?

Roman sculptures of Emperors and Demigods are on display at the museum. There are also sculptures from Egypt and some based on biblical themes. The bronze statue of Emperor Carlos V and the Fury is a famous sculpture.

How old is the Prado Museum collection?

The Prado Museum collection includes artifacts from the 12th century to the early 19th century.

Which famous artists are featured in the Prado Museum collection?

The collection includes works by iconic artists such as Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, El Greco, Hieronymus Bosch, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, and many others.

How is the Prado Museum collection organized?

The collection is organized chronologically, allowing visitors to explore the evolution of European art over different periods, including the Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanticism.