THE HERMITAGE IN THE PRADO was not an overwhelmingly memorable exhibit, but agreeable in scale and very interesting. I’m not big on gold artifacts, but looked at plenty of intricately crafted items, and some intriguing and architecturally precise paintings of the Hermitage itself. There’s a good modernist selection. I especially liked seeing a female “Absinthe Drinker” by Picasso (such spidery hands!); the wittily disconnected “Conversation” by Matisse; and Kees Von Dongen’s “Woman in a Black Hat” (which can’t help but call to mind Hedda Gabler). Of course since I was in Madrid, at the Prado, after perusing the exhibit, I strolled through Goya’s dark period and then cast my gaze for a long while on “Las Meninas,” still for me the most fascinating painting ever made.

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