I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Christ Carrying the Cross by El Greco on view in the Prado Museum

Christ Carrying the Cross by El Greco on view in the Prado Museum

Visiting the Prado Museum

The Prado Museum is the depository for Spanish art in the world that has no equal. It is massive and filled with wondrous works of art. After many hours of being transfixed in front of one fantastic painting after another, we left the museum. When we exited the Prado and discussed it, we agreed that we felt we had experienced sensory overload. My husband and I both appreciate art and have visited many museums in the past.

This reaction was something new to both of us. The sheer size of some of the paintings, especially the El Greco paintings, perhaps added to our feelings of being overwhelmed. Maybe it was the religious subject matter adding to the overall effect? Suffice it to say that it left its mark on both of us.

If we ever return to Madrid, you can be sure that another visit to the Prado Museum will be on our desired list of things to do. As long as one does not use flash photography, pictures are allowed inside the Prado Museum. This rule amazed us because many museums outlaw the taking of photos with or without the flash.

El Greco

Domenikos Theotokopoulos became well known worldwide as El Greco - The Greek. His magnificent works of art and other masters such as Velazquez, Goya, and many others are on view inside the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

El Greco was born in Crete and trained as an artist in Italy. He had been a pupil of the artist Titian. In addition to being influenced by his teacher, Tintoretto and Michelangelo also affected how he ultimately expressed himself on canvas.
He settled in Toledo, Spain, when he was in his mid-thirties.

Great religious spirit dominated Spain during that era. His massive canvasses portray paintings expressing his ideas of Christianity. We saw a significant number of them in the Prado Museum, but we also saw huge numbers of his masterpiece paintings that remain to this day in his adopted city of Toledo, where he created many of them.

One thing striking in El Greco's paintings and very recognizable is his use of elongated figures. This realism with a twist is very creative. Was this due to his zealous religious spirit painting in that dramatic way or astigmatism in his eyes affecting his vision? We can only speculate.

The distorted body shapes assume even larger-than-life proportions when standing in front of one of those massive paintings. They are awe-inspiring!

Influence of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church ruled the ways people lived and died, including controlling most of the land and intellectual life. Having gone through the Spanish Inquisition, where suppression of heresy was the goal, religious fervor was still at an all-time high in Toledo when El Greco painted his towering canvasses. Velazquez had painted the Royalty in the Capitol of Spain during their waning days of power.

The works of art by El Greco, Velazquez, and Francisco Goya fill the second floor of the Prado Museum with their spectacular paintings. They each portrayed the life and times in Spain during their lives with their individualized styles of painting.

Francisco Goya

The artist Francisco Goya came from a background of poverty and isolation. He was born in the village of Fuendetodos, in the province of Aragon, on March 30, 1746. Goya ended up living in Madrid by the age of seventeen.

Like Velazquez, the background of Goya's family was from the hidalgo class. It was the lowest order of Spanish nobility but forbade its members to do any manual labor.

It was in a time of economic upheaval countrywide. Poor sanitary conditions and stagnant living conditions, in general, were the norm. The Church's influence pretty much assured the continuance of just barely livable conditions. Most people's lives were pretty bleak.

Goya escaped this mired existence by being an artist and painter, thus having upward mobility. He grabbed the chance, and because he had great talent, he succeeded. We can see with Goya's paintings and etchings representations of what was swirling around him in his country of Spain. He featured both the pretty and the ugly events and happenings.

Due to an illness, he became deaf at the age of 46.

Goya amazingly painted one of the best-known nude paintings of the time, The Naked Maja and The Clothed Maja. That was amazing for this reason. The Inquisition was still in full swing, and he could have ended up in jail and had his paintings banned. Speculation has it that one of his wealthy and influential patrons probably came to his defense and, in effect, rescued him from more dire results meted out from the Church.

Goya painted beautiful portraits of wealthy patrons. He also painted grotesque creatures that showed the dark side of human nature. Francisco Goya's art actively engages one. His creations foreshadowed the modern art movement.

Other Artist's Work

Here are some other photos from the day my husband and I were on a guided tour inside the Prado Museum. This museum is a vast treasure trove holding not only the world-renowned Spanish art of Velazquez, El Greco, and Francisco Goya but is the repository for many other great artists' work as well.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 09, 2018:

Hi Rochelle,

Very happy to be able to show you this small photo collection from the vast Prado Museum. I was also familiar with both of these artists but getting to see their paintings in person was a real treat. Passionate and emotional are good words in describing the type of paintings that Goya and El Greco created...particularly El Greco.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on January 08, 2018:

Thanks for taking us along on your Prado tour. I enjoyed visiting a place I will probably evr see in person.

From my art history classes, I am familiar with both of these artists. Excluding the subject matter for each, I think El Greco was the better artist, though Goya probably pleased the public more.

I can remember one of my profs saying that El Greco's large paintings were viewed from a certain perspective -- ground level , and that is one reason that the figures were elongated.

Both were very emotional and passionate artists-- a distinctive part of the Spanish culture, I think.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 08, 2018:

Hi Mary,

With your history degrees you and your husband must appreciate this type of art and the settings even more than most people. We also saw quite a bit of El Greco's paintings in Toledo. That Goya Museum sounds interesting!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 08, 2018:

Prado has really some of the best of these two painters. We visited the Goya Museum in Zaragoza and got to know him well there not just as a painter but as a social activist. We waldo did El Greco's museum in Toledo and saw why his style was not approved by the Church but his best works were not there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2015:

Hello Johnb964,

Thanks for the compliment. I have been writing on this site for over 6 years and learned everything I know about blogging from what they teach on HubPages. Their learning center is packed with good information.

Johnb964 on April 09, 2015:

Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is great, as well as the content! bdfegcgeekgd

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 11, 2012:

Hi Mary,

The paintings in the Prado Museum are breathtakingly beautiful. We only saw a fraction of what was there. It would take many visits to see it all. Thanks for your visit, votes and sharing of this hub with others.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on September 11, 2012:

You are so lucky to have traveled to so many places. This was another interesting and informative Hub to explain the Prado Museum which I would certainly love to see with the beautiful art work. The paintings must have taken your breath away to see them up close like that.

I voted this Hub UP, etc., and will share with followers and social sites, too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 03, 2011:

Hi Nell,

A day wouldn't even begin to show you all that there is to see and experience at the Prado Museum. It is HUGE! Ideally the way to do it would be to spend a few hours there every day for a week or two and then do other things during the balance of the day. We almost felt overwhelmed after our tour there and only saw a fraction of it. Glad we got to see what we did of it however. Thanks for your comment.

Nell Rose from England on December 03, 2011:

Hi, Peggy, amazing pieces of Art, I would love to just browse there all day looking at these marvelous paintings, nell

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 28, 2010:

Hello TurtleDog,

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at some photos of paintings by El Greco, Goya, etc., inside the Prado Museum in Spain. I've never visited Philadelphia. I would imagine that the museum of art is a good one. Which artists did you particularly like? Thanks for the comment and vote up.

TurtleDog on November 27, 2010:

Great Hub! I just went to the Philadelphia museum of art and it really got me interested in some terrific artists. Thanks for the info! Voted UP!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 04, 2010:

Hi Micky Dee,

Glad you enjoyed this visit to the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. One could spend days there in order to see it all!

Micky Dee on February 04, 2010:

Very nice visit at Prado. Thanks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 24, 2009:

I found it Ethel...your Crete hub is now linked to this one.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 24, 2009:

Hi Ethel,

I'd be happy to have you link this to yours and I will do the same. I'll try and find your hub. What did you call it? Thanks!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on July 24, 2009:

We passed by El Greco's village when we visited Crete. I will link this hub to mine if that's ok with you Peggy

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2009:

Hi katyzzz,

Some of both I am sure. Some artist's were hired to execute artwork for the insides of churches, etc. and some truly tried to express their inner feelings of their own religious ideas in their art.

No matter who was paying the bills, the artwork is inspired from inside each artist in any case and comes out in their own personal styles which we so recognize and admire today.

Wouldn't you agree?

Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2009:

Hi Elena,

Thank your helpful "assistant" for me. The Immaculate Conception is such a beautiful painting. I'm glad it was in the Prado Museum when we were there so that we could see it in person. You are such a great help with this hub!

Thanks again.

katyzzz from Sydney, Australia on July 23, 2009:

A great hub, but how much were they inspired or simply hired by Religion?

Elena. from Madrid on July 23, 2009:

Hello, Peggy. Found number three from the top. Showed it to my wonderful "assistant" (ahem) who knows a lot more about painting and art in general than I do, and she said she recognized it... Now, it's NOT in Prado, but in a Salamanca, in a church of a convent, "Convento de Agustinas Recoletas". It's by Jose Ribera, and the title is "Immaculate Conception".

She didn't recognize the other "missing" two, but she's sinking her teeth on them and it's likely that she'll find them :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Got it Elena! Once again, THANKS! Only a couple left now that are unidentified. You were really on top of this. I thought that it might take you a bit more time. Will look forward to the completion of this puzzle.

If you ever come to Houston, we have some good art museums. Will be happy to show you around.

Elena. from Madrid on July 22, 2009:

Greco's without title, from top to bottom:

- first (below The Adoration of the Shepherds) "Saint Sebastian"

- second (below Baptism of Christ) "The Annunciation"

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Hello wannabwestern,

Thanks for this information about the SMU Meadows Museum of Art. Will check it out sometime! Does your husband still work in the field of art?

Often those traveling exhibits are spectacular in that they concentrate on one aspect of what an artist has created. Sounds like that exhibit of Goya's "Disasters of War" was a good one! He certainly portrayed what was going on in that day and time with his drawings and paintings.

Thanks for the comment and information about SMU.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Hi Elena,

I have already added the information from you with artists and titles to the paintings. Loving this!!!

While you are at it, a few of the El Greco's at the top of the hub do not have titles. You have taken on quite an assignment! This adds so much by actually having the added information. No longer just some pretty pictures. I can't thank you enough!

Elena. from Madrid on July 22, 2009:

Oppsss Peggy. I may have messed up with the numbers, so let me do this "from top to bottom". There are 9 images:

- The first where a man is doing a copy, I don't know ... yet.

- The second is Rafael, "Madonna Of the Rose"

- The third I still don't know.

- The fourth is "The Dead Christ Supported by an Angel", by Antonello.

- The fifth is "Birth of Christ" by Barocci

- The sixth I still don't know.

- The seventh is "Saint Cecilia" by Nicolas Poussin

- The eighth is "Hunter with his Dog" by Goya

- The ninth and last is "The Birth of Venus" by Cornelis de Vos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Hi Teresa,

Could keep doing different artists, of course, but these just happened to be the photos I was able to snap while on that tour of the Prado Museum that day. So excited that Elena is helping with the identification! Thanks for your comment.

Carolyn Augustine from Iowa on July 22, 2009:

My Hubbie worked at the Meadows Museum of Art at Southern Methodist University for three years, where they hosted an exhibition of Goya's drawings from his war correspondence days. It was called Disasters of War and I will never forget it. If you are looking for a museum with a top notch collection of Spanish Art in America, you will find it there.

I regret I've never been able to see the Prado Museum's paintings in person. Thank you for sharing!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Hi Elena,

This is so exciting! I thought that what turns out to be "Hunter with his Dog" looked like a Goya! Even though you thought the numbers were on top of the photos when they were actually placed under them (sorry...should have made that clear) it is easy to identify the subject matter by title. I can't thank you enough! (Smile) I moved the Goya up with the other ones...

Sheila from The Other Bangor on July 22, 2009:

Sorolla next!? His stuff is beautiful -- full of light and life and optimism. . .

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Hi Kiran,

Happy to see you liked these El Greco, Goya and other paintings in the Prado Museum. Will soon have more of them identified because of Elena's help! Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 22, 2009:

Hi Elena,

We saw that El Greco, Burial of the Count of Orgaz in that church of Santo Tome in Toledo. As you say...fabulous!

I really appreciate your help with identifying this artwork. Guess I should have told you that I numbered these paintings UNDER each piece...not above. I agree that the last one looks like a Reubens...just do not know the title (or for sure, the artist). Can't wait to see what you identify for me and everyone else reading this! Thanks!

Elena. from Madrid on July 22, 2009:

loveroflife -- well, I was expecting more photo-text hubs on Murillo, Sorolla, Picasso, Dali.... cheeky me, I know :)

loveroflife on July 22, 2009:

El Greco, Goya, Velazquez -- Your photo tour of the triumvirate of great Spanish artists is complete. THANKS.

Elena. from Madrid on July 22, 2009:

Here are some others:

#4 is ANTONELLO, "The Dead Christ Supported by an Angel"

#5 is Barocci, "Birth of Christ"

#7 is Nicolas Poussin, "Saint Cecilia"

Number 3 & 6 I can't find. YET. If they are in Prado, I ought to find them, eventually :)

Elena. from Madrid on July 21, 2009:

Peggy, I've got three for now:

#2 is a Rafael, "Madonna Of the Rose"

#8 is a Goya, "Hunter with his Dog"

#9 is Cornelis de Vos, "The Birth of Venus"

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on July 21, 2009:

Fabulous Peggy, thanks a lot :)

Elena. from Madrid on July 21, 2009:

Hello, Peggy! The greatest Greco's painting in my opinion is "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz", found in the Church of Santo Tomé, in Toledo. Goya is one of the best, he was a very modern and innovative painter in his time, the first to bring a psycologic component to his work, showing feelings and states of mind besides situations, and also depicting society as he saw it (as Teresa said), which was quite innovative at the time.

You have quite a few that I'll have to look up, some are familiar, I can guess at the last one being a Rubens rather than a Goya, but not sure. Ay, this is going to be fun!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2009:

Hi Ralph,

It is great that you got to see Goya paintings (as well as others) in the Prado. And I know which way you voted! LOL

Thanks for the comment.

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on July 21, 2009:

Great pictures. I visited the Prado many years ago. Goya is one of my favorite painters and was the greatest Spanish painter, in my opinion, until Picasso.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2009:

Hi Teresa,

You put the description of what Goya accomplished beautifully in a few words. I too would like to be back in Madrid at the Prado Museum. Would be fun to walk hand in hand with you as you could explain much of the artwork from the perspective of your expertise.

I had that wonderful experience a few times with my aunt who had an art degree and was a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum. As I wandered through several museums with her ( in Milwaukee and in Houston) she was able to tell me much of the meaning behind the paintings. Made it ever so much more interesting!

Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2009:

Hi Candie,

Yes, it is difficult to really explain the effect of what these El Greco and Goya paintings have on one when standing in front of them in the Prado Museum. Add Velazquez and other great artists to that mix and WOW! Guess those 3 little letters can say it all. LOL

Thanks for your comment.

Sheila from The Other Bangor on July 21, 2009:

Goya blows me away. He was the equivalent of an excellent photojournalist of his time; a war correspondent and satirist on the foibles of Spain and human nature. He painted what was there, not simply what people wanted to see. Wish I were back in Madrid! Thanks for this slice of the Prado!

Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on July 21, 2009:

Beautiful works! Of the two I prefer Goya, El Greco is a little to 'dark' for me. Hard to get the full effect of the works in a hub isn't it! Nice hub!

Related Articles