Spain's Prado Museum to update painting descriptions that people might find 'offensive'

The world-famous historical Prado Museum located in Spain is updating descriptions of its famous paintings to remove words that disabled people might find "offensive," citing the need to enact a "sharper criterion" in the current political climate to comply with disability laws.

The museum is set to revise the descriptions of renowned paintings that had used the term "dwarfs" to describe little people, contending that the terminology is prejudiced against individuals with disabilities, according to the Times.

Among the paintings that have been altered is Velázquez's The Boy from Vallecas (1638), which portrays Francisco Lezcano, a native of the Basque Country who was known for his position at the imperial court of Spain from 1634 until 1649, the year of his death.

The painting's previous description read: "In addition to dwarfism, he suffered from 'cretinism with oligophrenia.'"


It now reads: "In addition to achondroplasia, he suffered from 'cretinism with oligophrenia.'"

The sign for Velázquez's The Buffoon El Primo has also been revised.

The painting's previous description read: "This is one of Velázquez’s portraits of dwarfs."

It now reads: "This is one of Velázquez’s portraits."

For the evaluation, employees at the Prado examined approximately 27,000 depictions of artworks available on its website, in addition to the labels that accompany 1,800 works of art, the outlet reports.

The museum stated that it would not alter the titles of "historical" works, citing the engraving The Faggot, Auntie Gila by the renowned artist Francisco Goya, who in the early 19th century also painted the renowned Saturn Devouring His Son. 

However, it did alter the titles of two artworks by Juan van der Hamen y León and Rodrigo de Villandrando: "Prince Felipe and the Dwarf, Miguel Soplillo" and "Portrait of a Dwarf."

The term "dwarf" has been omitted from de Villandrando's painting, while León's painting has been substituted with the word "buffoon."

The museum spoke to the Times about the revisions and said: "We have a duty to be exemplary as a key institution."

The official stated that due to the current "political consensus, we have decided to revisit, with a sharper criterion, signs that we did not see anything odd about when they were written, but that now we find are out of step with the times."


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