The Museo del Prado, in collaboration with the Filmoteca and Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) and with the generous participation of private companies and individuals, has created a new documentary archive
which, for the first time and during its Bicentenary year, offers a survey of the audiovisual history of the Museo del Prado.
Among the results is the new availability of the previously unseen documentary Introduction to the Museo del Prado (1985) by Basilio Martín Patino with photographic direction by Juan Maríne, as well as the restoration of five short films that required urgent conservation: Velázquez (1937) by Ramón Berreiro; Mythology in the Prado: Rubens (1948) by José María Elorrieta; The lost Paradise (1948) by Luciano Emmer and Enrico Gras (pioneers in the production of art documentaries); Goya in the Museo del Prado by José A. Sobrino (1950s, lacking its original sound); and El Greco. A painter, a river, a city (1960) by Jesús Fernández Santos.
The material in this new archive includes Spanish and international productions (USA, UK, Italy and Denmark) directed by key names in the history of filmmaking, such as Jesús Fernández Santos, José López Clemente, José María Elorrieta, Ramón Masats, Manuel Hernández Sanjuan, Basilio Martín Patino, Carlos Saura, Juan de Orduña, Eusebio Fernández Ardavín, Pilar Miró, Benito Perojo, Antonio Mercero, Jacinto Molina, Orson Welles, George Marshall, Fernando Delgado, Beda Docampo, Ricardo Baños, Pablo Núñez and Ramón Barreiro, among others.
Full-length cinema films include stars of the stature of Rita Hayworth, Rex Harrison, Tony Leblanc, Aurora Bautista, Concha Velasco, Armando Calvo, Imperio Argentina, Manuel Gómez Bur, Katia Loritz, Juan Calvo, Estrellita Castro, Francisco Rabal, Gabino Diego, Leonor Watling, Eduard Fernández and José Coronado, while there are also documentaries with voice-overs by Fernando Rey and María Dolores Pradera, all of which will make this archive of enormous interest to a wide audience. This new archive is structured around to two principal concepts: "The Museum as setting" and "The Museum as inspiration".
The Museum as setting
The images grouped under this heading focus on both the material history of the Prados building and its surroundings, including the various building campaigns and alterations to the Museum as well as the history of Spain itself through various portraits of the general public and official visits. In this sense, footage of the exterior of the Museum, news bulletins and NODO reports filmed in the galleries, in addition to famous tv documentary series such as Informe Semanal [Weekly Report], provide an exceptional vision of Spains recent history.
Viva Madrid, que es mi pueblo! [Long live Madrid, my village!] (1928) by Fernando Delgado includes shots of the appearance of the Velázquez entrance when the sculpture of the artist by Aniceto Marinas García was surrounded by grass. Madrid (1942) by Ángel Negra shows how the Goya entrance looked before the existence of the direct entrance to the Museum on the ground floor (where the present-day ticket desks are located), and the same film includes images of Murillos Immaculate Conception of the Venerables and the Dama de Elche just after their return from the Louvre in Paris following negotiations between the French and Spanish governments.
Within this section special mention should be made of Tierra y cielo [Land and sky] by Eusebio Fernández Ardavín, a film about a copyist of Murillo (Maruchi Fresno), as much of the action takes place inside the Museum. An example of the historicising, patriotic type of Spanish cinema of the 1940s, in this case the film celebrates national values through works in the Prado. One of its most interesting moments is the final sequence which shows the gallery where Las Meninas is housed, with an installation that included a mirror in which visitors could see the work reflected.
The church of the Jerónimos and its cloister also appear in various films that show their appearance prior to Rafael Moneos restoration project, notably a sequence in Las chicas de la Cruz Roja [The Red Cross girls] (1958) by Rafael J. Salvia, in which the principal characters watch a newly married couple come out onto the churchs steps.
Some of these elements reappear in other titles, as do the changes made to the area around the Museum. El pobre García [Poor old García] (1961), directed by Tony Leblanc, shows the Monument to Eugenio dOrs on the Paseo del Prado as it was being constructed, while its unveiling appears in a NODO bulletin of 1963. In 2008 the filmmaker Beda Docampo Feijóo recorded Rafael Moneos recently inaugurated extension when he used it as a background for various sequences in Amores locos [Crazy loves], in which the principal character is a female guard at the Museum, played by Irene Visedo.
With regard to the Museums history, the archive includes news reports relating to the Spanish Civil War, the activities of the Committee for the Protection of the Artistic Heritage, and the removal to safety of the Museums collections during the war. There are numerous reports on official visits by high-ranking leaders such as Eva Perón, President Quirino and the King and Queen of Jordan, as well as stars such as James Stewart and Orson Welles.
News reports and documentaries on celebrated exhibitions held at the Prado include Pilar Mirós hour-and-a-half report on the Velázquez exhibition of 1990, in which the young Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, offers his opinions on the artists work.
II. The Museum as inspiration
The material compiled under this heading ranges from documentaries to fiction films and educational features. Famous documentaries include Prado Vivo [Living Prado] (1965) by Ramón Masats, in which he focused on the most human aspect of the Museum, namely its visitors, and Tres horas en el Museo del Prado [Three hours in the Prado] (1968), a film based on the classic book by the Catalan writer Eugenio dOrs and directed by Jesús Fernández Santos. Santos made more than a dozen documentaries at the Museum, most of them produced for NODO, and was the director who most frequently filmed in the Prado.
Particularly interesting is the RTVE series Mirar un cuadro [Looking at a painting] directed by Alfredo Castellón in which every week, well-known intellectuals of the time (poets, writers, painters, sculptors, architects, journalists, etc) discussed a painting, after which their commentary was compared to the opinions of visitors looking at the same work in the galleries. The programme ran for two series and was shown between 1982 and 1988. In order to make it, a total of 84 chapters of the Audiovisual Memory project were filmed at the Museum, featuring distinguished figures such as Rafael Alberti, Carmen Martín Gaite, Camilo José Cela, María Zambrano, Rafael Canogar, Antonio Saura, Maruja Mallo, Peridis, Manuela Mena, Miguel Fisac and Francisco Umbral.
Fiction films in the archive includes numerous references to some of the Museums masterpieces in the form of tableaux vivants. These appear in the two versions of Locura de amor [Madness of love] of 1909 and 1948 to represent Francisco Pradillas famous historical painting Juana of Castile following the Coffin of Philip the Fair. Other examples include Carlos Sauras recreation of The Executions on Príncipe Pío: 3 May 1808 in his film Goya in Bordeaux and in Agustina of Aragón (1950) by Juan de Orduña. References to various scenes in Goyas tapestry cartoons also appear in films such as La maja del capote [Maja in a cloak] (1943) by Fernando Delgado, Goyescas (1942) by Benito Perojo, and La Tirana (1958) by Orduña. There is even a recreation of the room in the Alcázar in which Velázquez painted Las Meninas in El duende y el Rey (1948) [The elf and the king] by Alejandro Perla.
Mention should also be made of another classic text inspired by the Prados collections; Las Meninas by Antonio Buero Vallejo. In 1974 RTVEs programme Theatre Night adapted this play under the direction of José Osuna and Manuel Ripoll. Buero Vallejo was also one of the intellectuals who took part in the abovementioned Looking at a painting series, discussing Velázquezs painting The Buffoon known as Juan de Austria.
Among monographic titles that introduce some of the great masterpieces of painting in the Prado, two that use a thematic approach are Fiesta aldeana [Village festival] (1955) by José María Hernández Sanjuan, which focuses on David Teniers painting of that title, and La vida de María [The life of Mary] (1952), narrated through small details in Fra Angelicos Annunciation.