Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

March 2, 2010

Located in the Villahermosa Palace, the museum holds the enormous collection donated by Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (that’s not even his full name!) and his wife Carmen.  In two generations, the family managed to establish a body of art that ranges from 13th century triptychs to 20th pop art.   The original holdings, bought by the Spanish government for the museum just after its opening in ’92, all belong to the Baron, while a wing added in 2004 displays his wife’s acquisitions.  Not too bad for a former Miss Spain.  However, there is a noticeable difference in their collecting styles: the husband seems to have made a greater effort to purchase ‘important’ works, while Carmen’s choices seem to be influenced mostly by a particular aesthetic preference.

As you’ll see from the following posts, I loved the 20th century works, and was basically unmoved by the rest.  I’ve never really been able to relate to the theme of misshapen-Madonna-and-child that seem to pervade medieval painting, and I think I just don’t know enough about the Dutch masters to get enthusiastic.  Anyway, what follows is not representative of the balance of the collection, but rather of what interested me enough to want to remember or learn more about it.

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