Profile - Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Duccio, Van Eyck, Carpaccio, Lucas Cranach, Dürer, Caravaggio, Rubens, Frans Hals, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Kirchner, Mondrian, Klee, Hopper, Rauschenberg ... These are just some of the great masters of art history whose works are on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. The museum currently houses two collections from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collector-lineage: the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, acquired by the Spanish government from Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza in 1993 and on permanent display since the museum opened in 1992; and the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, owned by the baron’s widow and held in deposit by the museum since 2004. These two collections comprise almost one thousand works of art, most of them paintings, with which the museum offers a stroll down the history of European painting, from its beginning in the 13th century to the close of the 20th century.

Standing almost opposite the Prado Museum and very near the Reina Sofía Modern Art Museum, this new museum, which architect Rafael Moneo was commissioned to design, was the missing cornerstone that finally sealed the triangle of art. With the presence of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, the most important private collection in the world before it was acquired by the Spanish state in June 1993 for 350 million dollars, few cities can match Madrid’s appeal for art lovers.

One of the key characteristics of the Thyssen-Bonemisza Museum is that it complements the Prado’s collection of old paintings and the modern art housed at the Reina Sofía Museum, featuring movements and styles such as the Italian and Dutch primitives, German Renaissance art, 17th century Dutch painting, Impressionism, German Expressionism, Russian Constructivism, Geometric Abstraction and Pop Art. Setting it apart is its singular display of 19th century North American painting, practically unknown in Europe, which occupies two halls of the museum.

The history and origins of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection tell one of the most fascinating tales of private collecting. Although the collection boasted worldwide renown, when the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum opened in Madrid in October 1992, showcasing the core of the collection together for the very first time, one thing that prompted most admiration was that such a large number of works, and such quality works, had been collected in just two generations. It was, without a doubt, the most important private art collection of the 20th century.

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