Our artists’ series now takes us to Spain, which has brought us some of the world’s greatest art, from the Golden Age El Greco to the modern Miró and Dalí (as seen in Midnight in Paris). If you haven’t been able to view the art up close at the Prado Museum in Madrid, you can choose from thousands of masterpieces to adorn your own walls as posters or wrapped canvas.
Perhaps the most famous Spanish painting ever is Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (c.1656), which presents the family of Philip IV through a complex chain of perspectives from the viewer to the young princess to the painter himself (and has kept art historians abuzz for centuries):
El Greco, originally from Crete (hence his nickname “The Greek”), became one of the master painters, sculptors and architects of the Spanish Renaissance. His momentous, large-scale works dominate many a museum wall with depictions of Biblical moments, such as The Adoration of the Shepherds (1603-05):
Painted in the last year of his life, this piece now hangs in Valencia’s Museo del Patriarca.
The Romantic painter Francisco Goya, a Spanish court artist like the previous two, influenced modern artists from Manet to Picasso through his subversive elements and bold use of paint. We can see aspects of Francis Bacon’s haunting scenes in Goya’s Saturn Devouring one of his Children (1821-23) — even the title suggests its harshness:
Mythology tells us that Saturn ate his children to preempt being overthrown, and Goya conveys this frenzy with which people in power sometimes try to maintain their grip. Some see it as an allegory of 19th-century Spain, but it certainly resonates across eras and lands.