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About Museo Nacional del Prado

The building that today houses the Museo Nacional del Prado was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785. It was constructed to house the Natural History Cabinet, by orders of King Charles III. However, the building's final purpose - as the new Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures - was the decision of the monarch's grandson, King Ferdinand VII, encouraged by his wife Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza. The Royal Museum, soon quickly renamed the National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures and subsequently the Museo Nacional del Prado, opened to the public for the first time in November 1819. The Museum's first catalogue, published in 1819, included 311 paintings, although at that time its collection comprised just over 1,510 pictures from the various Reales Sitios (Royal Residences). The exceptionally important royal collection, which represents the foundation of the Museum's collection as we know it today, started to increase significantly in the 16th century during the time of Charles V and continued to thrive under the succeeding Habsburg and Bourbon Monarchs. We owe to them the presence of some of the Museum's greatest masterpieces.

In addition, more outstanding paintings - which belonged to the Museo de la Trinidad - entered the Prado, among them The Fountain of Grace by the school of Jan Van Eyck, Saint Dominic Presides over an Auto de Fe by Pedro Berruguete, and five canvases by El Greco executed for the Colegio de Dona Maria de Aragon. Most of the Museum's 19th century paintings came from the former Museo de Arte Moderno, including works by Madrazo, Vicente Lopez, Carlos de Haes, Rosales and Sorolla.

More than 2300 paintings have been incorporated into the Museum del Prado since its opening as well as a large number of sculptures, prints, drawings, and works of art through bequests, donations, and purchases, which account for most of the New Acquisitions.

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