A Refreshing Dip at the Museum

  • Nadadores, Jávea. Joaquín Sorolla, 1905. © Museo Nacional Sorolla
    nadadores_javea_sorolla.jpg

Bloggin Madrid

Museums are always a great place to seek refuge, and even more so when temperatures rise above thirty degrees. By Ignacio Vleming.

Our first stop is the Sorolla Museum. Although it’s in the heart of the Chamberí neighbourhood, you’ll find views of the Mediterranean. Swimmers, Javea (pictured above) is one of the many canvases on which the artist captured summer light on skin and through water with extraordinary realism. Continuing our tour of the Reina Sofía Museum, we find The Swimmer, by Pablo Picasso, and Couple on the Beach, by Josep Togores. The museum also houses a work by Nicolás de Lekuona, a pioneer of photo collage in Spain, which shows numerous women diving in choreographed motion across a sky reminiscent of the sea.

The next stop is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. A number of beach scenes are displayed in the rooms devoted to German Expressionist painting and the Die Brüke group of artists from Dresden, painted by artists like Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel and Max Hermann Pechstein. We will focus in particular on a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner of a cove on Fehmarn, an island in the Baltic Sea. The sky, the trees, the rocks and the swimmers are depicted with unreal shapes and colours.

The Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection includes various works in which the ocean takes centre stage. The atmosphere of New York’s beaches, frequented by many of the immigrants that had recently arrived in the USA in the first few decades of the 20th century, were painted with great realism by American artist Edward Henry Potthast. It has been observed that the artist was influenced by the Sorolla exhibition organised by the Hispanic Society in 1909.

The same working-class ambience was not found, however, on the beaches of Saint-Malo in Brittany. During the Belle-Époque, they had become a summer holiday destination for the French bourgeoisie. At the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum we can view a painting by Maurice Prendergast in which the bathers are lost amidst the classic striped bathing tents of the time. The painting, speckled with short strokes and dabs of uniform colour, might remind some of a mosaic.

This Reclining Nude Shepherdess by Berthe Morisot, a painter who was part of the Impressionist movement, is also from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. The loose strokes and the blurred background, as if the painting were an old photograph, give the scene a high degree of naturalism. According to the museum’s website, the artist created this painting during her summer holiday at Mézy-sur-Seine, some fifty kilometres from Paris. This beach, then, is on the banks of a river.

Our tour ends at the Prado Museum, in the rooms devoted to 19th century Spanish painting. Here, we find paintings like Boys on the Beach, by Joaquín Sorolla, The Mouth of the Bidasoa, by Martín Rico, and the seascapes of Carlos de Haes, which show the sea before the arrival of summer holidaymakers. Finally, we’ll stop to consider one of the most delicate pieces in the entire gallery, a 13x19 cm panel entitled Nude Boy on the Beach at Portici. This work by Mariano Fortuny makes evident something that’s exceedingly difficult to convey with an image, the pleasure of drying off in the sun after swimming.

 

DON’T MISS
  • A one-kilometre stretch that is home to three of the best museums in the world: the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía. 

    Paseo del Arte
  • Usuaria de Bicimad en el Paseo del Arte
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  • El fin de siglo. Sala 61 A del Museo Nacional del Prado ©Museo Nacional del Prado (660 x 335)
OTHER PARKS & GARDENS
  • Park dedicated to the Discovery of America, located in the Plaza de Colón. 

    Jardines del Descubrimiento
  • This small gem, hidden in Latina, retains all the charm and the original structure.

    Palacio del Príncipe de Anglona Gardens
  • Having been closed for many years, this 400-year-old park has once again be opened to the public.

    Quinta de Torre Arias
  • The Fuente del Berro Park is a splendid landscaped garden that was ordered by King Philip IV.

    Fuente del Berro Park
  • One of the best places to watch the sun set in Madrid, known popularly as 'the park of the seven boobs'. 

    Cerro del Tío Pío Park
  • In the east of Madrid lies one of the city's most unknown parks. Don’t miss its stunning almond trees which blossom in late February! 

    Quinta de los Molinos
  • This park, one of the largest in the city, located near Madrid Río, is home to the Planetarium and the IMAX.

    Enrique Tierno Galván Park
  • The Oeste Park, a monumental green space between Plaza de España, Moncloa and the university campus.

    Oeste Park
  • The Santander Park has ample areas for leisure and facilities to play various sports.

    Santander Park
  • Green space in the Villa de Vallecas district, presided by a large ornamental fountain.

    Parque de las Cataratas (Parque Vallecas Villa)
  • This natural environment surrounded by the Manzanares in the Usera area is ideal for leisure and recreation.

    Manzanares Linear Park
  • Green area located in the Ciudad Jardín neighbourhood, which houses three fragments of the famous Berlin Wall.

    Parque de Berlín
  • A secret garden in Hapsburg Madrid with fruit trees and an 18th-century bronze fountain.

    Huerto de las Monjas
  • The Art Walk has a surprise for the visitor: a tropical garden in a train station.

    Atocha Station Tropical Garden
  • This elegant garden situated in south Retiro must be seen during the spring months.

    El Retiro Rose Garden
  • Enjoy the world’s most beautiful rosebushes in one of the largest gardens in Madrid.

    Rose garden in Oeste Park
  • Jardines del Descubrimiento
  • Quinta de Torre Arias
  • Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío
  • Quinta de los Molinos
  • Parque Enrique Tierno Galván
  • Parque del Oeste
  • Parque de las Cataratas
  • Dama de Ariadna
  • Parque de Berlín
  • Jardín tropical Estación de Atocha
  • Rosaleda del Parque de El Retiro
  • Rosaleda del Parque del Oeste.jpg
  • Running along the bank of the Manzanares River, this beautiful new park is the perfect place to have a long, laid-back lunch and spend the afternoon strolling, cycling or simply people-watching.

    Madrid Río Park
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  • Pick one of our themed itineraries and discover the city through the eyes of some our Madrid's most renowned artists.

    Themed Itineraries
  • Turistas Madrid
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  • Enjoy stunning views of the sprawling city and its most famous landmarks.

    Madrid Viewpoints
  • Faro de Moncloa
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