After leaving the wonderful museum of ancient things (Archaeological Museum!) I walked along to the park and turned off to Decorative Arts. This gem had me from word go. I find when you have a glut of fabulous huge art galleries with countless masterpieces you get, well, over-faced. Madrid has a lot of these wonderful places but I needed today for alternative stuff before my planned visit to the super famous Prado later that day. So fill your boots with a lot of pics and no moaning on my side.

Museum of Decorative Arts.

I’m going to show you the incredible example of a palace kitchen and it’s tin glazed hand painted tiles (Azulejos), popular in both Spain and Portugal in the 16th century and in Spain mostly produced in Valencia. (Although they were around for much longer and were more sophisticated having geometric Arabian designs but, for our purpose, the examples here were popular later when they were more available) The tiles on these walls literally tell a story of the household. Fish, meat and veg were painted hanging on the walls of this kitchen. The woman of the house alongside her staff, all working busily preparing an eternal meal for the family and guests and carrying trays to serve their finished delicasies such as a tray of hot chocolate in ornate cups.

Great example of a palace kitchen using Azulejo tiles

Cats are seen all over naughtily attempting to steal fish and other goodies hanging on hooks painted on the tiles. Long links of homemade sausages also hang more safely higher above the stove (could they be the beloved chorizo?) Chili peppers also wait to be added to various dishes. We see a painted frying pan full of food and various utensils. This is a well equipped kitchen!

The artist knows no bounds with the sometimes comical scenes. For example the maid carrying the tray of chocolate is seen letting one cup fall, and the woman behind clubs at a thieving cat somewhat violently. Those pesky cats are everywhere.

Then you see a leg of ham, baskets more sausages and the Holy Mary and baby Jesus thrown in for good measure. Also more decorative motifs are seen simply, one would think because there was a gap of white! It’s a kitchen I would love to have indeed why don’t we have more fun with design these days?

The many rooms have authentic settings but none so charming as that kitchen.

Dining room with more traditional tiles and pottery.
Stairwell with grand urn.

Their temporary show at the time was a large selection of fabulous 20’s posters for advertising. By then my broken foot was giving way and had swollen up and knowing I was hitting the Prado next I decided it was time for lunch and continued to yet another tapas bar to charge up my phone and replenish my stomach with some cheese, tortilla, chorizo and ham with a fine glass of Rioja. This bar also had a tiled wall design, they do love painted tiles don’t you know.

Tapas Bar tiles

The Temporary Show.

These early advertising posters and examples of display pieces were a lovely finish to my visit. I gushed with nostalgia at the wonderful flappers selling soap and a strong virile man holding his son in one arm and a packet of malted flour in a raised victorious salute. This SOS flour had another display board. A flamenco dancer in full Spanish dancer dress advertising a Spring fiesta in Seville. A pottery senorita is for a bar where they supply that brand of Anis. A large ornate gold plaque has the epitome of an exotic flapper with beaded headdress and dark eye shadow and ruby shiny lips invites us to coffees and chocolates ‘El Cafeto’ And of course the turbaned exotic Arabian Nights provides the picture for ‘Riente’ perfume. The sailors above? I dunno just loved them. The stylized imagery is so easy for the old brain to take on board and just let the imagination fly. You don’t always have to be purist about any kind of art appreciation just enjoy it for what you see in it.


Sadly I cant show you any pics of the art work as explained below but after all I think I’ve got a whole loada art for you lot and one more day of Madrid to go. So hold onto your hats for the last day of arty farty in the next post.

Front of Prado.

Top tip: As in many Galleries across the world, there are no cameras allowed in the Prado (so tap on the link if you want to see some pics) but suffice it to say that the collection was magnificent when I finally got there, battling more rain and smugly walking past the huge queue with my multiple museum pass which is a MUST when going around most cities popular tourist venues. The sad thing is I really don’t remember much of it as I was pretty knackered by then. The other thing is when you’re tired and can’t take a few pics you really don’t retain much and have nothing to refer to, saying ‘oh yes now I remember’

Out in Paseo de Prado