Done the Prado Museum thrice. Each time, I was drawn more to the Spanish Masters. With much time to spend in Madrid, I was able to schedule my Prado visits in such a way that I devote the next 2 hours just viewing 1 or 2 artists.







Goya is among Spain’s greatest, if not THE. His statue stands on a prominent site on the Museum square, and rightly so. I lost count of how many galleries or halls inside the Museo where his paintings hang. But I do remember that Goya requires more time and attention. Amazing how his works evolved through the years. The religious paintings, the nude paintings, the more surreal — shall i say “fierce”? — paintings. More amazing is his life story. Imagine him as a man about town, painting the Duchess of Alba in all her nakedness, witnessing the Mayo Dos failed insurrection and painting it from memory, going deaf as he began on his “Pinturas Negras”, dying in Bordeaux, France and buried in Madrid without his head. That last piece of information about his headless body so intrigued me that I ventured to search for his resting place.






The metro stop says Principe Pio. Walking right from the station along Paseo de Florida for some 10 minutes, the statue of Goya proudly stands in the glorietta fronting the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida. I thought I was seeing double when I reached the place, only to learn that a sister church with twin features was built right next to the original which has since been turned into a Museum. The mortal remains of Goya lie in the original 18th century Neo-classical church, while worship was transferred to the adjacent sister church. Both churches are tiny, with floors shaped like a Greek cross.





As expected, photography was not allowed inside the tiny museum-church. A pity. I would have loved to snap photos of Goya’s frescoes. The photo above and those below are some photos grabbed from the Internet, just to give you an idea of Goya’s genius. Surely, the Hermitage of Saint Anthony is so fortunate to house Goya’s masterpiece. There are mirrors — spotted at least 4— so one can view the ceiling, the dome without craning one’s neck. Still, I couldn’t help looking up to admire this intriguing man’s work. For a while there, I thought there was a banister or some kind of railing around the dome to allow one to go up and view the frescoes up close. I even assumed Goya painted from there while his assistant busily stirred his pigments. Was I dead wrong.






The cherubs painted on the ceiling looked like they were lifting the drapes for the audience to view the obra maestro. A child’s leg “hanging” from the banister made me realize that the feigned banister is part of the painting showing villagers witnessing a miracle of San Antonio. The artist even painted himself with a black cloak in this dome fresco! Each character in the painting has a different facial expression — pain, adoration, awe, joy, gratitude, festive, surprise, glee, fright, even indifference. Very very expressive figures and gestures caught in canvas. I like how Goya’s paintings seem to have blurred edges (this layman’s description), as if the artist smudged over the edges without losing the details. The restoration work done here and completed in 2005 is definitely commendable.





Yet this site, this tomb of this magnificent artist is often missed. As I have. Been here 2 months until I ventured off the beaten path. But why headless, you ask? Goya died in Bordeaux in 1828. His head was stolen in France before the body was transported to Spain to be buried under  a very modest gravestone here. In death, as in life, Goya’s story truly invites one to either stand in awe or sit in contemplation. Now….. Let’s have that last look on Goya’s “Naked Maja”. Did the Duchess of Alba really sit for this painting? Or did she “lie” for this painting? 😊😊😊