Did they let me in free because I was a student? That day, I remember that the important museum was nearly empty, and there was also construction going on. Many of the rooms were closed and unavailable for viewing that day. But that was a different Spain back then, almost underdeveloped (due to years of a strangling dictatorship). In this period of transition this was perhaps normal.
It was August, and the city, as the museum, was empty. It was extremely hot; we had no air conditioning in Madrid; the bathroom was shared with other guests and was in the corridor. It was vacation time for most locals, so I was able to escape the crowds typical of other seasons.
I entered the museum with apprehension. There was nobody there but the security guard. I had just studied Spanish artists and paintings in the culture course in Salamanca. Velásquez, with his very famous painting, ¨las meninas¨, El Greco, the religious painter, Picasso, Dalí and many more. To see these masterpieces in person, instead of on slides was spectacular, and quite dazzling, almost as special as crossing the Roman bridge in Salamanca, which is mentioned in the picaresque novel, LAZARILLO DE TORMES.
When I returned to the Prado today, (July 25, 2015), I recalled that first time in the museum, when I was a young student, and also the last time in 2012. That winter day in 2012, I didn´t see the painting itself, but on leaving the museum, I discovered the print ¨Doña Juana la Loca¨ de Francisco Pradilla Ortiz. Then I had no time to buy it and take home a copy, so for the next three years I thought about seeing it and getting a copy of that painting. I couldn´t forget about Juana who was just destroyed, standing there in the middle of nowhere, looking at Felipe´s ( her dead husband) tomb. In the twists and turns in the Prado, I looked for it without knowing the artist´s name or when it was painted.
By chance I found it and what a surprise! It was huge! Nearly the size of the entire wall, a mural. It definitely left an impression on me. In the same room hung ¨Demencia de Juana de Castilla¨another fantastic painting by Lorenzo Vallés. Then I went back to one of her mother: ¨Doña Isabel la Católica dictando su testamento.¨ Eduardo Rosales carefully depicted the queen on her death bed and the resignation and sadness of her last days. Surely this time I did not leave the museum without copies of these two masterpieces!