On the top of our Madrid priority list was experiencing “The Golden Triangle of Art,” made up of three of Spain’s finest museums: the Reina Sofia, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Prado. Now, let me preface this post by saying that Amy is the real deal when it comes to appreciating art. She’s art educated and motivated, plus she’s got “cool art appreciation moves” that makes even the MOST moody and darkly swathed art appreciator jealous. There’s the step back and nod slowly, the head tilt with small sigh, and my favorite, the “test the museum guard move” where she steps up really close, leans in, slowly squints, and then snaps a photo. The click is comparable to a gunshot, which makes everyone, mostly me, extremely nervous. So, you can imagine her unbridled joy when we planned our Madrid trip around seeing these museums.
For someone like me, a genuinely dedicated art appreciation apprentice, there is a threshold of museum enjoyment, and when it’s crossed everything before me, may it be the world’s most glorious Monet or a quixotic Dali, turns to visual mush. All melted crayons. I’m sure many of you can relate. However, since Amy gets more from these visits than I do, I have devised tactics to enjoy what I can and keep the crayons at bay so Cat can take her time.
- Abandon the real art appreciator, but double back often.
- Bring tunes. I like to subtly jam as I wander around.
- Put extra jelly insoles in your shoes.
- Bring a snack. Low blood sugar is the enemy of museum stamina. (Remember, it’s not acceptable to eat in museums, but consider it a survival challenge. It’s best to scarf things in elevators, staircases, long hallways, behind statues, etc.) Keep vigilant for cameras.
- Bring paper and take notes on the pieces you like and want to research later. Or take photos of them like Amy does.
Museum stamina, as with most things, gets easier with time.
The following artwork details provided by Amy.
[MUSEO NACIONAL CENTRO DE ARTE REINA SOFIA]
Our first stop, and Spain’s legendary national museum of 20th-century art, the Reina Sofia houses amazing collections of Spain’s two greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Picasso’s incredible painting Guernica is here, waiting to explain the pain of Spain’s Civil War. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photos of it.
Llegada de la Pesca – Return from Fishing by Joaquín Sorolla 
We visit his museum later!
Lectura – Reading by Julio Romero de Torres 
Manola by Julio Romero de Torres 
Muchacha de espaldas – Girl from the back by Salvador Dalí 
The Thyssen-Bornemisza fills in the gaps left by the Reina Sofia and the Prado by exhibiting Italian primitives, works from the English, Dutch and German schools, Impressionists, and European and American paintings from the second half of the 20th century. Degas’s The Green Dancer (my favorite painting in the world,) along with several amazing John Singer Sargent paintings were highlights here.
Abandoned skiff by Frederic Edwin Church 
Venetian Onion Seller by John Singer Sargent 
We were overjoyed to see Singer Sargent in person! He’s Amy’s all-time favorite.
John Singer Sargent
Woman with a Parasol in a Garden by Renoir 
At the Milliners by Degas 
Yvette Guilbert by Henri de Toulouse-Latrec 
Dancer in Green by Degas 
My absolute favorite.
The Ludwigskirche in Munich by Wassily Kandinsky 
Isn’t Wassily fun to say?
The Orchard at Eragny by Camille Pissarro 
Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet 
Plaza de la Merced, Ronda by Childe Hassam 
We later visited this very city and this very plaza.
South American Landscape by Frederic Edwin Church 
South America, represent!
Self-Portrait by Rembrandt 
Diptych of the Annunciation by Jan van Eyck 
That’s PAINTED people! Crazy.
Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni by Ghirlandaio 
Portrait of King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein ‘The Younger’ 
Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio 
Amy’s comment: “Seeing Catalina with my Catalina was a real treat. They even have similar hair color.”
David with the head of Goliath and Two Soldiers
by Valentin de Boulogne 
View of Piazza San Marco, Venice by Canaletto 
Revolving House by Paul Klee 
Arlequín con espejo – Harlequin with a mirror by Picasso 
Hotel Room by Edward Hopper 
The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh 
Les Vessenots in Auvers by Van Gogh 
[MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO]
Considered one the greatest museums of art in the world, the Prado is THE Spanish national art museum. It features one of the world’s finest collections of European art, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art. Our favorite was Las Meninas by Velázquez. Sadly, Amy couldn’t take any photos here.
We have one more teeny Madrid Museum post from Madrid’s smallest museum, the Sorolla, which happened to be our favorite Spanish museum. No need for my tactics at this one.
Thanks for traveling with us!
K and A
Word of the Day: Igual | Equal
Song of the Day: It’s Real | Real Estate