Madrid museums #2: Thyssen-Bornemisza

11 05 2010

#2: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

One of the ‘power museums’ in Madrid – there is no jewellery here, it’s mostly paintings and a couple of sculptures which were originally from an amazing private collection.

I enjoyed this visit immensely (it was the fifth place I visited), but for a reason that is unlikely to be experienced by others.

In my third year at RMIT, I had a jewellery project where we had to make five pieces: for a mother, a grandmother, a priest, a king and an aunt (that’s all from memory, I’ll confirm when I get home to check out my papers). Anyway, in this project I used a portrait painted in 1542 of Matthaus Schwarz (by Amberger) as the focus, and selected other Germanic 16th/17th century portraits to make a hypothetical connection to Matthaus and made pieces referencing those pieces of art.

I’ll explain more about that project another time, but the point is that the book I used as reference from the RMIT library must have actually been about the collection in Thyssen – because here I was face-to-face with a number of the portraits.

Portrait of Matthaus Schwarz, Christoph Amberger, 1542 (click on image for original source)

I saw the portrait of Matthaus (above) – it was like recognising family, because I spent a lot of time researching him. Also here was the portrait by Hans Holbein of King Henry VIII (1534); and ‘Portrait of a Woman’ by Bartholomeus Bruyn (1538) [sorry about some of the links, finding images hasn’t been easy]. The gem in ‘Portrait of a Man’ by Wolfgang Beurer (1487) was also very familiar. It was all such a surprise!

The significant collection is arranged in chronological order, starting at the top floor of the large building. As a survey of European-centric art over the centuries, this is an amazing group of paintings. It can be overwhelming by the end of the visit, there is so much here – as I was so excited by the 15th/16th century art, I think I peaked too early and was pretty much ‘over it’ by the fauvists and wanted a good lie down!

At the time of my visit, there was also a temporary exhibition of Monet and Abstraction – which juxtaposed Monet paintings with other significant artists for comparison and consideration of influence. I found this somewhat enjoyable, but limited because the text was only in spanish (well, I was in Spain!), and I chose not to get the audio-guide.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is at 8 Paseo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.



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