Sunday, May 21, 2006

Madrid, Day 2.

This morning, being Sunday, I headed over to El Rastro which is a highly recommended (by my favorite guide Let's Go, of course) outdoor market. I tell you. I should really throw away this little book. El Rastro was nothing more than a simple tianguis, which is a type of marketplace that we have at least twice a week in every big city in Mexico, with the chaos and variety and haggling it implies, and that sells (in Mexico, at least) mostly clothes and imported stuff. So nothing new there, except this one had a lot more secondhand stuff than the contraband American (brand new and cheap!) imports to be found in the Mexican markets.

Afterwards, I decided to take a breather, and head over to assured quality: the Museo del Prado, whose reputation rivals the best museums in Europe and is, in my opinion the thing not to miss in Madrid. Their collection of 12th-17th century Spanish works is unparalleled, and it was really neat to finally see all those famous paintings that you see in your history books as a kid (Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Delights", for instance, Velazquez's "Las Meninas", or Goya's "La Maja Vestida" and "La Maja Desnuda", etc) live. It was great.

A curious thing happened to me though as I was strolling through the the various exhibits, and it was this. All of the sudden, I spotted a famous portrait by CarreƱo de Miranda, the one of king Charles II, which I as positive I had already seen a few days ago in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias in Oviedo (and I had the picture to prove it!). What gives? Which is the original and which is the copy? And why is the fact that one is a copy not indicated in the picture information written beside it? Or at least, why is it not mentioned that x copies exist? And are the copies from the original painter himself, or someone else?

Are the tourists being duped here?

Needless to say, this bugged me. Excessively. It soured up the rest of the museum visit a bit by covering it in a haze of skepticism from then on for me. Remember what I said about the paper tiger?



Anonymous said...

Thomas Hoving's book False Impressions says that there are innumerable fakes hanging in museums worldwide. It is possible that both portraits are fakes and it wouldn't be the first time that happened - especially if the painter is easy to fake. Goya, according to him, isn't.

Ian said...

Did you know I have Las Meninas hanging in my place? It's right when you walk in, so whoever enters is as the king or queen.

Elisa said...

...and reflects in the mirror! Cool! :)