The Prado Is ‘Updating’ Its Most Cherished Masterpieces to Illustrate the Dystopian Chaos Unleashed by Climate Change

Released to coincide with the current COP25 Climate Summit Change in Madrid, the doctored paintings envision a post-apocalyptic world.

Diego Velázquez's Felipe IV a Caballo (1635-36) modified for WFF and Museo del Prado's climate change initiative. Image courtesy WWF and Museo del Prado.

What if the smiling lady in a blissful, 1777 painting by Goya was actually a horrified climate refugee, struggling simply to survive? To coincide with the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference “COP25” currently underway in Madrid through December 13, the Spanish capital’s Museo del Prado has teamed up with conservation group WWF for a new campaign, releasing a selection of four “updated” masterpieces which reflect the potential consequences of our changing planet.

Titled “+1,5ºC Lo Cambia Todo”—which translates from Spanish to ”+1.5ºC changes everything”—the joint initiative points to our rising global temperatures, and calls for governments to take action to ensure that the number does not exceed an increase greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Four paintings from the Prado’s collection were selected by WWF and museum experts for the campaign: El Paso de la Laguna Estigia by Joachim Patinir; El Quitasol by Francisco de Goya; Niños en la playa by Joaquín Sorolla; and Felipe IV a Caballo by Velázquez. The modified works address rising sea levels, the threat of extinction to entire species, the impact of extreme droughts, and social discord surrounding climate refugees. The four doctored images of the masterpieces will be presented on billboards throughout Madrid’s city center, as well as part of WWF’s digital engagement campaign, #LoCambiaTodo. 

“For the Museum, this project represents an opportunity to continue placing art and its values at the service of society,” said Javier Solana, President of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Prado Museum in a statement. “The symbolic value of the masterpieces and the impressive artistic recreation that we present with WWF is an excellent way to transmit to everyone and especially to the young generations what is really at stake in this fight against climate change.” 

Juan Carlos del Olmo, General Secretary of WWF Spain, elaborated further: “The celebration of COP25 will place Madrid as a global focal point of political and media attention. Therefore, we want to take the opportunity to send a strong message to everyone through the universal language of art.”

Below are images of the original paintings and their altered counterparts.

Diego Velázquez, Felipe IV a Caballo (1635-36). Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Courtesy Museo del Prado and WWF.

Joachim Patinir, El paso de la laguna Estigia (Landscape with Charon Crossing the Styx), (c. 1515-1524). Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Courtesy Museo del Prado and WWF.

Francisco de Goya, The Parasol (El quitasol), (1777). Courtesy Museo del Prado.


Courtesy Museo del Prado and WWF.

Joaquín Sorolla, Boys on the Beach, (1909). Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Courtesy Museo del Prado and WWF.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.