Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art 17.10.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 19, 2010

Here we are about to set off for the Prado and I haven’t even blogged my thoughts about our visit to the Thyssen Museum….

Street art - the one on the RHS is alive

If you’ve been following my blog you might feel that what I’m about to say is much the same as about the other galleries I have visited. The paintings are arranged chronologically, they demonstrate the development of western art (in this case from the Italian Primitives) and there is a fine collection of Dutch and Flemish masters, most of which we have never seen before not even in books. Modern art movements are represented too starting with the Impressionists (especially Pissarro).

But if you love looking at interesting paintings as an expression of human culture and ideas, then any exhaustive collection of European art is wonderful. At home, I like to visit the NGV time and again, to enjoy my favourite paintings and to look more closely at ones I don’t know very well. Here there is the frisson of seeing new ones, of recognising some that we have seen in books or other media (e.g. a small one of Holbein’s Henry famous painting of Henry VIII)  and also of occasionally recognising a famous person from history, such as a miniature of  Thomas Cromwell.  These little miniatures made me think of the days when an ambassador might be sent off to wangle some treaty or marriage and he had to be ‘made known’ to the court before his arrival. Not unlike the ways in which we arrange ways to recognise internet friends when we meet in real life for the first time!

I am not really a fan of the audio guide but the gallery has done a very good job of identifying its ’emblematic’ paintings, starting with the first of the gallery’s Italian paintings to go beyond its religious function and include an architectural image with a not-bad effort at perspective instead of just the usual holy trio. In the next gallery we saw the first one to differentiate people, leading to the eventual birth of portraiture, and that wonderful Bronzino of that duke, his sneer immortalised by the artist for all time. They have a lovely John Constable and a very early, very moody Van Gogh too.

Tim likes landscapes and still life best, while I like portraits and interiors in particular, but we spent a very satisfying three hours in this museum and would recommend it to anyone.

BTW You are not, of course, allowed to take pics at the museum so I have instead shared some street art photos.  In the one above, the being on the RHS is alive, and it is a feat of genius for him to be able to maintain that pose for hours on end.  I’ll make a slide show of some others if I get time…I’m just off to the Prado!

PS Very, very late on Wednesday night after some belated proof-reading of the above… here’s some Madrid street art:

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