Art has been an extension of my life for as long as I can remember. From a young age, I was drawn to the beauty and creativity of paintings, sculptures, and other forms of art.
For me, art is not just a hobby or a pastime, it is a way of life. It is a way to express myself, to connect with others, and to explore the world around me.
Art has the power to inspire, to challenge, and to transform us in ways that nothing else can.
I believe that art is essential to our humanity, a reflection of who we are and our certain God-given marker.
It is indeed the language of our western culture, our history, and our Judeo-Christian values. It allows us to see the world through different eyes, to experience different perspectives, and to appreciate the diversity of our world while striking our inner core with an innate familiarity.
My passion for art has led me to explore it in its lateral and different forms from classical paintings to the more remote contemporary installations.
Always seeking the common line between the two. Indeed the contemporary when properly construed always finds its form and consistency in the land of the ancients all the way through to our century.
The more museums and galleries and installations I visit the more the resonance of this statement is true from the most awe-inspiring all the way to the most austere of modernity.
I believe that everyone has within them the ability to connect to the art form and that it is a powerful and natural way to connect with our inner our unique self.
I am blessed to have a unique exposure to such an experience in the most intimate of manners an International Trustee of the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado (Friends of the Prado Museum Foundation), one of the pillars of tasteful thoughtful collections in the world.
I am Italian but I always loved Spain, Spanish culture, tradition and definitely Spanish Art.
The Prado and its storied collection are the reflection of the legacy of Spanish royalty and like Italy its centuries-old connection to the Christian faith.
The Prado by birthright is considered a national treasure and indeed it remains a point of international honour symbolising the greatness of Spanish culture and heritage.
Founded in 1819 by King Ferdinand VII and it was originally intended to be a Museum of natural history “The Royal Museum of Paintings”.
However, the King soon recognised that the Museum’s collection of art was too valuable to be privately possessed by King or Queen, and he acknowledged the public’s right to their national birthright.
Since then, the Museum has grown to become one of the most important art museums in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year.
One of the things that makes the Museo del Prado unique is its commitment to preserving and showcasing the noblest characterisation of the nation’s proud traditions.
The museum’s collection of over 35,000 works of art includes works by some of the most renowned artists; predominantly Spanish painters influenced by their European counterparts together with Italian, French, Dutch and other masters.
Its collection is organized chronologically, allowing to see the evolution of art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. (The collection also includes works from before the Middle Ages, mainly Greek and Roman sculptures). This approach allows visitors to appreciate the art and understand its historical context.
Its extensive collection of works by Spanish artists includes some of the most famous paintings in history.
One of my favourite is Diego Velázquez’s, considered to be the standard of excellence of all Spanish painters of time immemorial. Some of his best operas are: “The crucified Christ”, (1632) one of his very few religious work but definitely his finest , “The Surrender of Breda” (1635) a masterpiece considered to be one of the finest historical paintings of the Spanish Baroque ; “Las Meninas” (1656) which is considered one of the greatest paintings of all time and one of the most important masterpieces of European art. Las Meninas is for the Prado Museum what Mona Lisa is for the Louvre : the Museum’s signature painting . These timeless complex works capture the period of Western Enlightenment through the eyes of man of depth.
Francisco Goya , First Court Painter to Charles IV of Spain , with his famous intense works called “Black Paintings”, “The second of May 1808″ and “The third of May 1808 in Madrid” (1814), which is Goya’s most famous work and his most unapologetic piece of propaganda; “Saturn” (1819-1823), “The Drowing Dog (1819-1823), “The Family of Carlo’s IV” (1800), considered his greatest portrait, and “The Naked Maja” (1795-1800 ) which was famously controversial due to the model who suggested the independence of Spanish women of the day; Goya was stripped of his title of court painter and several years later he painted a clothed version “The clothed Maja” (1800-07).
This early avant garde work telegraphed the coming emancipation of woman while still respecting the classic gendre of the court.
The Prado Museum has the world’s largest and most important collections of paintings of these two incredible artists Goya & Velazquez who together form the cornerstone of the Museum’s collection.
Other Spanish masters are Jose’ de Ribera with his portrait “ Democritus “ that shows the influence of Caravaggio on Ribera’s early career and Francisco de Zurbaran. Zurbaran’s work rarely appear at auction and are considered particularly sophisticated and elegant works which are treasured by the discerning eye traditional yet again very contemporary.
In addition to its collection of Spanish art, the Museo del Prado also has an impressive collection of art from other countries. The museum’s collection includes works by Italian, Flemish, and Dutch artists, among others. Some of the most famous works in the museum’s collection include Rubens’ “The Three Graces,” and Rembrandt’s “Artemisia”, some of the finest and most sensuous painting collections.
The wonders of the mind eye and soul takes one to another plain of beauty and appreciation of the rich western culture that underpins our very existence.
Some other artistic anchors of the Prado are El Greco with his magnificent operas of religious themes “The Nobleman with his hand on his chest” (1580)and “The Holy Trinity” (1577-1579); Peter Paul Rubens “Adoration of the Magi”, one of the Museum’s largest images (1609/1650) , “The Three Graces” (1635) and “The Judgment of Paris” (1633-43), “The Allegory of Peace” (1660); masterpieces by THE VENTIAN Titian , the first painter collected by the Spanish monarchs, and the pillar on which the royal collection was erected , “Charles V at Muhkberg” (1548), “Danae and the Shower of Gold (1560-1565) and “The Fall of Man (Adam and Eve)” (1570); Bosch, one of the most fascinating artists at the Prado Museum painted “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (1490-1510), second most viewed or visited work of art, only surpassed by “Las Meninas” of Velazquez; Francisco Ribalta “Christ Embracing St. Bernard 1625/27″, one of his most beautiful composition and considered to be his finest work; Andrea Mantegna “The death of the Virgin” (1462-64); Tintoretto “The Washing of the Feet” (1580) known for capturing the humility as depicted in the New Testament.
Rogier van der Weyden’s “The Descent from the Cross “( 1443 ) is a supreme example of the early Netherlandish tradition. The great movement of Flemish painting during the early Renaissance was initiated by two painters : Robert Campin, known as the Master of Flemane “The Annunciation” (1420-25) – was a theme that Campin painted several times; “Merode Altarpiece” (1425) and Jan Van Eyck.
Albrecht Durer “Self- Portrait” (1498) is considered the bridge between Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Vicente Juan Masip knows as Juan de Juanes painted “The Last Supper” (1555-62), one of the best-known paintings of a major event in Christ’s life. Juan was called “the Spanish Raphael”.
This tapestry of riches goes on room to room. It literally would take dates to absorb and appreciate the full collection on view.
Just when you think it cannot be more one of my favourite and rarist of greats Raphael appears around the corner. This Master of the Renaissance and the ultimate Renaissance artist together with Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo form the trinity of bespoke ennobled works.
Rafael painted people “more real than they really are”.
Most of Raphael’s art reside in the Vatican yet here we are once again with grandeur of Spain’s past royal prerogative yielding several pieces there are quite a few pieces including “The Holy Family”, “The Pearl” (1518), “The Cardinal” (1510-11) which was painted during his residence in Rome, “Sagrada Familia dell’Impannata”, “The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist”, “The Holy Family with a Lamb” (1507) , “The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptism, or Madonna of the Rose” (1517), “The Holy Family with Raphael, Tobias and Saint Jerome, or the Virgin with a Fish” (1513-14), “The Holy Family under an Oak Tree” (1518-1520), “Christ falls on the Way to Calvary” (1515-1516).
This is literal parade of rarities as you pass by each of these what emerges is a sense of the nexus of Spanish and Italian Art and their clear influence the latter had on the former a literal cultural bond which remains to this day.
It remains a hardship of joy indeed and impossibility to name all the magnificent operas and artists in the grand halls. However at risk of violation of so many i will simply end with a last look into this kaleidoscope of beauty with my further personal favourites.
Michelangelo Merisi better know by the name “Caravaggio” painted “David with the head of Goliath” (1600), Giovanni Battista Tiepolo “The immaculate Conception“ (1767) a reminder of the orders of the sisters who trained me in Rome at such an early age.
Then reaching even further back in time “The Annunciation” ( 1440-45 ) of Fra Angelico, is another incredible masterpiece considered the first Florentine altarpiece in the Renaissance style. Fra Angelico was a Dominican friar who became a revolutionary in the world of Italian painting. He was known as the “Angelic Painter” with a rare and unique talent.
No words can do justice to this roll call of magnificent it must seem to be fully appreciated.
Being an International Trustee of the Friends of the Prado Museum Foundation is a true honour and an opportunity to genuflect with commitment to sustain this most necessary cultural icon so that future generations never forget the basic foundation of our western mores and values.
The Friends of the Prado Museum Foundation as an institution has supported the Museum for more than 40 years through donations and projects.
This group of Trustees, created in 2006, has allowed representatives of business and culture from various countries to channel their love for the Prado, allowing greater dissemination of its collections internationally.
Every September we all reunite in Madrid for our board meeting and our dinner Gala.
We participate in select trips like the Camino De Santiago to help us all to come to more deeply understand the task preserving these gifts.
Indeed it is a generational responsibility.
The Prado Director and the General Secretary of the Fundación inform us about museum’s management, budget, staffing, exhibitions and Friends’ situation. They also present the strategic plan and long-term goals for both institutions, the Prado Museum and the Friends Foundation.
We are all very aware of our responsibilities and trusteeship including being Ambassadors of the Prado in our countries.
Overall, We believe we play a very important role in ensuring that the standing of the museum indeed continues to flourish as a leading light of Spanish indeed western civilisation.
We have an incredible team of professionals chaired by Carlos Zurita , Duke of Soria , our wonderful President since 1988 and Nuria de Miguel Poch , our general secretary since 1989 .
This is truly a bounty of joy and effort we all partake with gratitude.
One we wish to share with all of you bringing that happiness and reserve of decency so bequeathed to all of us.