Europe's autumn cultural calendar is rich in highlights, from Leonardo at the Louvre to Durer in Vienna, writes Nick Trend.

Madrid Palace of Art

Madrid already had three stellar art collections open to the public: the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia museums. Now it has another.

The Palacio de Liria is the private home of the Duke of Alba, head of one of the richest dynasties in Spain and it holds their remarkable private collection of Old Masters, including paintings by Titian, El Greco, Goya, Rembrandt, Rubens and Courbet.


Palacio de Liria. Tours start every half an hour, book in advance, €15 ($26).
Paris Autumn Festival and Leonardo

The Louvre owns five of the 15 surviving paintings by Leonardo and this unmissable show is expected to gather most of the rest, plus key sketches and drawings. It also coincides with the excellent Autumn Festival, Paris's annual celebration of music, dance and art.

Leonardo da Vinci, the Louvre, October 24 to February 24. Advance bookings obligatory. Paris Autumn Festival until December 31.
Vienna Durer rarities

While Leonardo is wowing Paris, Vienna will be in thrall to his equally brilliant contemporary, Albrecht Durer. The Albertina museum, which has the world's greatest collection of his drawings, is now showing some of the most famous, plus paintings and prints portraits and studies.

Albrecht Durer, Albertina museum, until January 6
Delft De Hooch comes home

A contemporary of Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch was a master of highly atmospheric paintings of daily domestic life in the mid-17th century. He was one of the first painters in the history of art to depict ordinary women in their own homes.

Pieter de Hooch in Delft: From the shadow of Vermeer; Prinsenhof Museum; October 11 to February 16.
Troy Myths and reality

The new museum at the site of the ancient city of Troy in Turkey opened last year displaying many of the best archaeological finds. But there is a particularly good reason to plan a visit before the end of the year. In November, the British Museum opens the UK's first major exhibition on Troy with finds from the excavations at the site, but also historic sculpture and other works responding to the ancient myths of its siege and fall.


Troy Museum, Canakkale, Turkey ( Troy: myth and reality, British Museum, November 21 to March 8.
Amsterdam Golden Ages Compared

There were two artistic Golden Ages in the 17th century — one Dutch and one Spanish — but rarely are paintings from these very different countries seen together. That will change next month when the Rijksmuseum will display some 60 paintings from the greatest masters of Holland (including Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer) and Spain (Velazquez, Murillo, and Zurbaran).

Rembrandt-Velazquez: Dutch and Spanish Masters, Rijksmuseum, October 11 to January 19
London Freud and Gauguin

Major shows by two of the greatest portraitists of modern times open in London this autumn. The Royal Academy hosts a world first — a complete retrospective of Lucian Freud's self-portraits with more than 50 paintings, prints and drawings from his earliest (1939) to his last (2003). The National Gallery turns the spotlight on Paul Gauguin, whose radical approach to portraiture has never been examined in such depth.

Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits, Royal Academy, October 27 to January 26. Gauguin Portraits, National Gallery, October 7 to January 26.
Ravenna Opera in Ravenna

An offshoot of Ravenna's summer festival of classical music, the opera trilogy is a short run of productions that are performed in the 19th-century Teatro Comunale Alighieri. The casts are mainly young singers, or those debuting in a particular role and accompanied by Riccardo Muti's Orchestra Luigi Cherubini. This year's programme opens with Norma, followed by Aida and Carmen and each one is performed three times.

Ravenna Autumn Trilogy, November 1-10.
Milan Classic sculpture

This exhibition is the first to contrast the early 19th-century creative rivalry between two sculptors: the revolutionary, often highly erotic work of Antonio Canova and the more classical sculptures of Bertel Thorvaldsen, who moved to Rome in 1797. More than 150 works will be on show.

Canova and Thorvaldsen: The birth of modern sculpture, Gallerie d'Italia, Oct 25 to March 15.

- Telegraph Group Ltd