So I added pictures of London to the last post so if you didn’t see them, enjoy!
This week I’ve allowed myself to be sort of lazy since it’s my last week off before classes start on Monday (gulp).
But I did go to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza on Thursday afternoon since I had told myself I would go visit at least one major Madrid sight seeing spot. As it turns out, this museum is part of the so-called “golden triangle of art” (triangulo del arte/triangulo de oro) in Madrid. The other two museums are obviously the Prado and the Reina Sofia, both of which I have already visited (but not been back to since I’ve been living in Madrid… waiting for my sister/parents to go back again).
The collection in this museum used to be privately owned by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (hence the museum’s name and used to be one of the largest private collections of art in the world). The collection passed on to the baron’s son Hans who expanded the collection and owned works by Picasso, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Van Gogh just to name a few. Hans’s fifth wife, a Spanish woman named Carmen Cervera (and a former Miss Spain) was apparently a major factor in helping her husband decide what to do with his collection. Hans ended up turning over his collection to Spain which then created the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum which opened its doors in 1992.
The museum has a lot of 14th and 15th century Italian paintings (which I am not so fond of), Flemish/Dutch paintings (by Jan Van Eyck) and also Renaissance and Baroque works. The museum also has a collection of impressionist/post-impressionist works and there is actually a temporary exhibit called “jardines impresionistas” (Impressionist gardens) which I did not go see going on.
The museum is housed in the former Villahermosa Palace and apparently this building has always been owned by members of the aristocracy in one way or another. It was bought by the duke and duchess of Villahermosa in the early 1800s (due to its great location next to the Retiro park and the road in which royal processions took place) and extensive renovations were undertaken to make the building what it looks like today (though the inside is completely different). At one point, the Prado used the building for temporary exhibitions before Spain acquired the Thyssen-Bornemisza art collection in 1989.
After her husband died, Carmen continued collecting art and another wing was added on to the museum when the baroness donated even more paintings to the museum.
I spent about 2 hours in the museum and visited every single room, though I pretty much walked past the Italian 13th and 14th century art on the second floor. There aren’t many paintings by Spanish artists but I was surprised to find there was a significant number of paintings by North American artists. In fact, one painting in particular tugged at my heartstrings–I can’t remember the artist’s name but it depicted 3 men in a boat fishing on the Long Island Sound off the coast of Westchester County–not too far away from where I’m from. Certainly didn’t expect to run into a piece of home in a museum in Madrid. In fact, there were quite a few paintings depicting life in New England/other areas of the US.
This museum is smaller than Reina Sofia or the Prado and while I was there, there weren’t many people milling around so I almost felt like I had the place to myself which was nice. It was definitely not as overwhelming as let’s say the Met in NY or the Louvre in Paris. You can easily see the whole collection in about 2 hours. Definitely taking my parents here when they come visit! 🙂