To complement the exhibition ‘Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado’ we want to take visitors on a trip to the old Madrid illustrated in some of the magnificent paintings in the exhibition, and share the feeling of today’s Madrid — a bustling international city known for its cutting-edge design, technology, food and culture.
American writer Ernest Hemingway loved Madrid. He had this to say about the city in the 1930s… ‘If it had nothing else than the Prado it would be worth spending a month in every spring, if you have money to spend a month in any European capital… It makes you feel very badly, all question of immortality aside, to know that you will have to die and never see Madrid again.’
‘When you get to know it, it is the most Spanish of all cities, the best to live in, the finest people, month in and month out the finest climate… It is in Madrid only that you get the essence.’ [Death in the afternoon by Ernest Hemingway (1932)]
The Gallery’s twenty-first century approach will be expressed through La Sala del Prado — the ‘Prado lounge’ — a large-scale lounge environment adjacent to the exhibition, especially built to house multimedia interactives for all ages, drawing activities, cafe and a host of programs and events, including Prado Up Late evening events, during the exhibition.
Madrid-based design studios Studiogaas and Estudio Manuel Carmona have collaborated with the Gallery to create designs especially for the furnishings and decor of La Sala del Prado. Taking inspiration from Spanish textile patterns, lace motifs and craft techniques, the studios have brought a contemporary aesthetic to this interactive space.
In La Sala, you’ll learn about how Spanish culture influenced art of the time, from the symbolism of portraiture to the significance of fruits, vegetables and other produce in still life painting and get a sense of why the Prado is one of the world’s best museums, situated in one of the most exciting cities.
Here’s a taste of what’s in store:
| Spanish still life | Especially for visitors to La Sala del Prado, a rich display of fruits, produce and spices has been inspired by Spanish still life painting and the myriad of items that entered Spain during periods of travel and expansion of the Spanish Empire. We invite you to take up pencils and draw from the display using paper templates provided, or use the multimedia drawing application.
| Multimedia interactives | The powerful symbolism encoded in historical Spanish portraiture meets the twenty-first century in Prado Portraits, a multimedia interactive that enables visitors to put themselves in the picture to become a Spanish royal subject, a cherub or even a mythological god, and learn about the original subject’s accessories and dress, before sending the resulting image to friends and family via social media.
A comprehensive guide to the period on which the ‘Portrait of Spain’ exhibition focuses is provided in a multimedia timeline and family tree, tracing the reign of Spanish monarchs from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the artists they each supported, the major political and cultural events of the period, and the evolution of the Prado museum.
For younger visitors, a multimedia quiz, Pepe’s Great Escape!, uses playful games and lively animations to bring to life a host of historical facts relating to art works in the exhibition, including some of the fashions of the sixteenth-century royal court, what a Spanish peasant could expect for dinner, and the significance of the cacao bean.
| Bringing Spain to plate and glass at the Sala cafe | Spanish cuisine is richly steeped in history and origin. Many of the world’s gastronomically-focused cultures have grown from historical periods of expansion, which introduced olives, almonds, citrus fruits and fragrant spices to the Spanish menu. Tomatoes, chillies, peppers and potatoes also make up the base of new world influences to create Spain’s staple flavours of today.
The Sala menu celebrates these vibrant tastes, bringing together fresh local produce, including poached pickled mackerel in saffron escabeche, with crispy deep-fried leeks and shredded Serrano, buttered asparagus, boiled egg and baby globe artichoke.
Beautiful Spanish wines represent the most distinctive Spanish grape varietals, including but not limited to, Cava, Albarino, Verdejo, Tempranillo and Granacha from the regions of Penedes, Rias Baixas, Rueda, Rioja and Toro respectively.
With our friendly and informed staff, let us guide you through the flavours and essence of Spanish cusine at the Sala Cafe.
So, be inspired by the lively cultural traditions of Madrid – the home of the Museo Nacional del Prado — and enrich your experience of the ‘Portrait of Spain’ exhibition in La Sala del Prado. ‘Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado’ is on display at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) until 4 November 2012. This ticketed exhibition is an Australian first and exclusive to Brisbane.