The cosmos in the Prado comes to light


More than 20 works from the museum’s permanent collection are intertwined with astronomy to teach the evolution of the universe through art

Traveling the universe through art is the new proposal of the Museo Nacional del Prado with ‘Reflejos del Cosmos’. Twenty works from the permanent collection of the emblematic center of Madrid are part of an exhibition route to show the evolution of science through the eyes of important authors such as Patinir, Rubens, Goya and Tiepolo. The third day of creation (Bosco, 1490-1500) leads the new way of reading the museum’s treasures.

The tour, which will be available until October 16, will explore visual answers to questions about what the universe is like and man’s place in the world. It is a way of integrating other branches of knowledge, emphasized the director of the museum, Miguel Falomir.

“It is the result of an invitation to professionals outside of the arts who have traversed the iconic space as visitors on numerous occasions, and today they offer us a different point of view as creators,” Falomir said at the press conference held at one of the rooms of the National Art Gallery.

From another perspective, aspects are rescued that usually go unnoticed when observing the collection: the creation of the universe and its constant discovery. The project was planned two years ago, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The lecture supported by Astrophysics was pending until the museum fully opened its doors to the public.

The scientific look was given by the doctor of astrophysics at the Center for Astrobiology, Montserrat Villar, the creator of the itinerary. “Art is a vehicle of knowledge,” he says. The Prado’s twenty works housed in the museum’s fourteen rooms have been integrated to create four scenarios that explain what the vision of the world has looked like through the ages.

‘The Myth of the Flat Earth’, ‘Myths in the Stars’, ‘When the Moon Lost Its Purity’ and ‘The Revolution of the Telescope’ are the four sections that make up the thematic itinerary. The selection of the works involved putting on the “astronomers’ glasses” to recognize in the brushstrokes the advances in science at the time. Highlighting beliefs and legends that originated thousands of years ago and the way they disproved each other with each discovery is a fair process to admire, Villar emphasized.

The need to understand and interpret the cosmos is enshrined in Pedro Pablo Rubens’ ‘The Immaculate Conception’; ‘The Birth of the Milky Way’, also by the Baroque painter, and the grisaille of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by El Bosco, the three jewels of the museum that are the stars of this approach.

Bosch marked a milestone not only in art history, but also in science. His interpretation of the country caused a stir at the end of the 15th century to know exactly what he meant. Now that revolutionary look is valued as the common thread of the itinerary. While the first work on the tour is “The Passage of the Styx Lagoon” by Joachim Patinir, the facade of “Reflections of the Cosmos” is the grisaille that “captures a strange way of housing the universe and little known outside the triptych”, Villar looks back.

“It’s a journey through time” that makes it possible to look beyond the paintings. It projects the different cultures and societies of different times, when the conception of the cosmos was endowed with political and religious prejudices, the curator said.

Within the proposal and almost at the end of the path, the three stars painted in Rubens’ “Saturn Devouring a Son” rise above the “heartbreaking and violent” scene. Paintings like this reveal one of the findings thanks to the telescope’s raid by Galileo’s hand. In this case, it is stated that the planet was not a single celestial body, but a triple. “Again the artist reflected that he was aware of the discoveries.” This is how the curator explains the hidden side of the art that the Prado preserves: science.

Source: La Verdad


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