The Master of the Prado: A Novel

Image of The Master of the Prado: A Novel
Release Date: 
November 16, 2015
Atria Books
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The Master of the Prado by Javier Sierra is a work of illuminated autobiographical fiction. This unique work acts as a guide to famous and important works of art by masters such as El Greco, Bosch, Raphael, and Titian, located and on display in Spain’s Prado Museum.  Any vigilant reader can stand in front of the work (copies found in the book) and know more about the history of the painting and its painter than the plaque beside it on the museum’s wall shares, and that reader will, like Javier, be sucked into the mysteries within the paint.

Set in 1990 Madrid, Javier, a student of journalism, visits the Prado and one day is spoken to by an impeccably dressed stranger who introduces himself as Luis Fovel. Enraptured by the same painting by Raphael known as The Pearl, Luis begins to tutor Javier on the deeper meaning of the art. Through five encounters at the Prado, Javier becomes enchanted with the religious mysteries, heresy, history, conspiracy, and fanaticism found framed on the famous walls and his curiosity of the great men who commissioned the work and who painted them grows into an obsession that threatens danger for himself and his girlfriend, who accompanies Javier on his quest to learn more about the art and the mysterious master, Luis Fovel.

Richly detailed, The Master of the Prado opens doors to new pathways of understanding of the art of previous centuries and the hidden codes within such art. Much like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons—without the murder and fast-paced action and thrills—The Master of the Prado tightly engage the imagination of anyone who enjoys conspiracies.

Art historians and general lovers of art will greatly enjoy this fantastic fictional tale of visions and prophecies of the greatest art masters as they seek to create a doorway between this world and the next, leaving clues to their deepest thoughts and beliefs in the smallest details of their brushwork. Historical facts and secret sects fill the pages as Javier becomes the recipient, unknowingly at first, of Fovel’s secrets.

Readers are left to wonder how much fact is in this fiction and to plan their trip to Spain to see the Prado and the exhibited works for themselves. Though initially this novel pours too much detail into its pages for a reader uninitiated in art history, understanding and knowledge begin to match pace with Javier’s as he makes connections and begins to see the art as never before with his newly opened eyes.

Sierra writes in an engaging style much like his contemporary Arturo Perez-Reverte, another Spanish author with a natural grace for storytelling and engaging characters painted in their actions and words rather than in minute descriptive detail.