The Prado Masterpieces

I’ll admit that I’m struggling to work out who would be the market for this, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be the serious art student. I mean, it might, but £75 is a lot to shell out, even for something as magnificent and comprehensive as it is. At over 600 large format pages, it’s massively heavy and really quite impractical to use. If you were to put it on a coffee table, it would probably stay there – though I’m not sure where you’d put the coffee. It feels like a book to be seen to own, rather than one to have for use.

When you handle it, the pages turn and lie flat pleasantly, but that also counts against it. The binding isn’t tight, so the spine suffers quite quickly and the soft boards bump easily too. My copy is looking quite second-hand already. The paper is quite thick, but also soft, and doesn’t really make the reproduction shine; there’s a slightly dull quality that’s not aided by the less than pin-sharp screen that’s been used. For the money asked, I’d have expected more and I can’t help feeling it’s been bumped up by the perception of prestige and, it should be said, the quantity of the illustrations.

The obvious plus factor is that you get a virtual tour of the Prado without needing to go there, though you could probably get a budget flight and a stay in a hostel for not much more. OK, you’d have to come home after a day or two, but there are cheaper books that may well have better reproductions of the things you’re really interested in.

I’d love to be able to say that this is a sumptuous book that you’d want to have whatever the price, but the truth is I’m underwhelmed.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

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