Monday, September 26

a menu by José Andrés with nods to the Ukraine under busts of kings and muses




Located on high pedestals, like the shafts of classical columns, the Muses welcome the visitor to the Prado Museum and they will also be exceptional witnesses this Wednesday night at the dinner of the leaders of the
and their companions. The national art gallery has been closed to the public yesterday and today to adapt the spaces chosen for dinners: the Cloister of the Jerónimos and the Hall of the Muses.

The tasting will be led by Chef Jose Andres and it will have “Ukrainian winks”, both in the music and in the ingredients. Thus, the beetroot (base of the typical Borsch) will be the protagonist of the first course, as a tribute to the victims of the country of sunflowers.

With the aim of not harming any of the works in the collection, both places have been adapted, since they are the only ones that lack paintings. Of course, they house beautiful sculptures. These enclaves, sources from the Prado Museum indicate, are normally rented for dinners, cocktails, sponsor events, etc. Together they host about a hundred events a year.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Guests will enter through the Velázquez gate, which is only opened for special occasions. The 39 leaders and their 14 companions will be received by Javier Solanapresident of the Prado Board of Trustees, who was also Secretary General of NATO between 1995 and 1999.

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Next, they will go to the central gallery of the museum, on the first floor, one of the most emblematic areas of the Prado, where some of the most important paintings hang. As a gesture of the power of cultural diplomacy, a concert will be held there by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, whose members were yesterday doing a dress rehearsal for a couple of hours. After this last test, the musicians were able to take a short tour of the museum guided by Andrés Úbeda, Deputy Director of Conservation and Research at the Prado.

Music between Las Meninas

In the recital, the Ukrainian ensemble will present two pieces to the leaders: ‘Symphony no. 1’ in C major (ch. 1770) by Maksym Berezovsky (1745-1777) and ‘Melodie’ in C minor’ (1981) by Myroslav Skoryk (1938-2020). While enjoying the music, guests can also admire the paintings in the gallery or the adjoining rooms. One of them, Room XII, dedicated to Velazquezis chaired by Las Meninas. They will be there, to explain the paintings to the guests, the director of the Prado, Miguel Falomir; Andrés Úbeda, deputy director of Conservation and Research at the Prado; and Alejandro Vergara, head of Conservation of Flemish Painting and Northern Schools until 1700 del Prado. Also, Javier Solana.

In the cloister there will be a dinner for 39 people. A large platform around the skylight and a square table have been built against the clock. This enclave was part of the Monastery of San Jerónimo el Real founded by Enrique IV near the Pardo mountains. It was moved to its current location in 1505. Baroque in style, it replaced another Renaissance arcaded courtyard that had to be demolished due to the threat of ruin. “It was designed by Fray Lorenzo de San Nicolás and built between 1672 and 1681. Its construction was conditioned by the adjoining buildings, the foundations of the demolished cloister and the use of a good part of its materials”, it is stated in the historical review of the national art gallery .

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With the French invasion, San Jerónimo became part of the Retiro bastion and after the confiscation, the group of buildings was used for other uses that caused its rapid deterioration. When in 1878 Real Patrimonio ceded the temple and the cloister to the archbishopric of Toledo, the church was practically in ruins and only the stone arches remained of the patio. At that time the temple is restored without repairing the cloister. Although it was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1925, no measures were taken to prevent its deterioration, except for a superficial repair carried out in 1962.

State of the Jerónimos Cloister before its restoration
State of the Jerónimos Cloister before its restoration – JULIAN FROM SUNDAY

Fortunately, the expansion project of rafael moneo it did contemplate the restoration and consolidation of the remains of this old cloister before proceeding with its rehabilitation as part of the extension of the Prado. Thus, the cloister was restored in its exact original layout inside a concrete jacket for its integration into the new building designed by the prestigious Spanish architect.

As for the Hall of the Muses, painted in Pompeian red by Moneo, another 14 people will dine there. In this case, a table has been installed in the center, where it usually has a large flower arrangement. “With this selection of ancient statues, it is underlined that the museum is also a collection of classical sculpture, and the basilica space is recovered for works in marble just as it was during the first decades of the institution’s history,” he says. the review on this enclave published by the museum.

The eight marble effigies were found around 1500 in Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, where they decorated the stage of the Odeón Theater. Bought by Felipe V, they arrived in 1725 at the palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. Interestingly, during its restoration in 1686, they were mistakenly given new attributes and heads according to the identification given at the time. Only Terpsichore, representative of the dance, was correctly identified. The muse who bears the portrait of Christina of Sweden, however, was turned into Melpomene (theater). And Calliope, muse of eloquence, was restored without special reason as Urania, which symbolizes Astronomy. Be that as it may, the inspiration (of the muses) will catch NATO leaders at work.

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