August Thyssen left his son, Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza a vast fortune built on naval construction, oil, steel and armaments. The Baron continued the family businesses to further grow his wealth as well as fuel his passion for the collection of 13th to 19th century European masters. He made his home in the Villa Favorita in Castagnola-Lugano, Switzerland where he also kept his magnificent collection of art.
The German Baron’s son, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza continued in his father’s footsteps both in business and the collection of art. His first purchase, after his father’s death, was a watercolor by German Expressionist Emil Nolde. He then amassed an extraordinary collection that included the best of German Expressionism, Impressionism, post-Impressionism: “stars” of the 20th century from Degas, Mondrian, Picasso, Leger, Monet, Manet, Pissaro to Kandinsky, Munch, Schiele, Lichtenstein, Hopper, Chagall and Warhol.
As well as art, the Baron collected wives. It was his fifth and last wife, Carmen “Tita” Cervera, with her extraordinary powers of persuasion and love for her native Spain, who convinced her husband to place his entire collection into a dedicated museum in Madrid. Following a legal wrangle with the Baron’s various heirs over ownership of the art that Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza won, the collection remains housed in Madrid’s neo-classical Palacio de Villahermosa called the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
The Museo forms one of the “angles” in Madrid’s remarkable “Golden Triangle of Art”, the other two “angles” being the Prado and the Reina Sofia National Museums. What makes the Thyssen-Bornemisza so very special is the chronological placement of the 1600 paintings and the fact that rather than restrict the collection to the well-known and famous masters of the past, both father and son focused on lesser known but equally talented artists who were working at the same time as the “stars” but did not enjoy the level of patronage or promotion of some of their peers. Duccio and his contemporaries illustrate the 14th and 15th centuries along with Van Eyck, Durer and Holbein; the Renaissance and Baroque periods are highlighted by da Messina, Tintoretto, Titian, del Piombo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Murillo and Rembrandt. Frans Hals and portraits by Ghirlandaio and Carpaccio are stunning. Impressionist and post-Impressionists are represented by, among others, Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Degas, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Matisse, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Schiele, Mondrian, Gris, Kandinsky, Freud, Hopper, Lichtenstein, Warhol.
There are magnificent works at every turn on the Museo’s three floors. They are a grand tribute to the exquisite taste of the Barons, both of whom are responsible for leaving a sublime legacy for all to relish.
Location: Paseo del Prado 8, Madrid 28014 Telephone: 34 902 76 0511
Mondays: 12:00 – 4:00PM (Free Admission) Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00AM – 7:00PM
Admission: Permanent Collection: $12. Discounted: $8.
Exhibition Only: $13. Discounted: $8.
Collection & Exhibition: $20. Discounted: $10.