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Masterworks from Budapest. From the Renaissance to the Avant-Garde

From 18 February to 28 May 2017

Lucas Cranach, the Elder
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1526-1530
Oil on panel. 88.4 x 58.3 cm
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts



Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Vice-Chairman of Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza is one of the most important art collectors in the world today and a well known and admired figure both in Spain and abroad. Carmen Cervera, Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza, was born in Barcelona into a family that encouraged her love of art. Her father, an industrial engineer and businessman, was an amateur painter and collected works by Catalan artists. Carmen Cervera received an international education at the French Lycée, the Colegio Lestonnac and Mary Mount International High School in Barcelona, as well as at the Sagrados Corazones in El Escorial (Madrid). She completed her studies in England and Switzerland.

In 1965 the Baroness married the American actor Lex Barker, with whom she lived in California, Italy and Switzerland until his death in 1973. Together they built a house on the Costa Brava that remains one of the Baroness's favourite residences. While on holiday in Sardinia in the late 1970s Carmen Cervera met Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, a businessman and art collector, whom she married in England in 1985 and from whom she was inseparable until the Baron's death in April 2002.

From the outset Carmen Thyssen shared the Baron's wish that his art collection should be accessible to the world. In addition, and with his support and guidance, she also embarked on creating her own art collection, thus continuing the artistic tradition of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family.

The Baroness's key role in bringing about the agreement between the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and the Kingdom of Spain, initially for the loan of the former and subsequently for its permanent acquisition by the Spanish State, has been widely recognised. The agreement was a historic event for Spain and also guaranteed that the Collection would remain undivided and that it would be displayed in the finest possible setting. In recognition of her endeavours, in 1988 the Baroness was awarded the Gran Cruz of Isabel la Católica, and in March 1999 the Gold Medal for Fine Arts, presented to her by King Juan Carlos of Spain in Santiago de Compostela. The Baroness has been an Academician of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Cádiz since 2000. In 2009 she was awarded the Melvin Jones Prize by the Fundación Lions Club of Gijón, and the Alfiler de Oro Prize by the Asociación Mujer Siglo XXI in Bilbao in 2010. In 2011, she received the Grand Cross of the Order of the Second of May from the Madrid Regional Government. In the same year, she was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Telmo, and Honorary Ambassadress of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Malaga, as well as Woman of the Year in Malaga in the SUR Culture Prizes and Woman of the Year in the Madrid Initiative Prizes for 2011, as well as receiving the Gold Medal of the School of Protocol and Institutional Relations in Barcelona. In 2012 she was granted the Maestro Escudero Arts Prize, the ESEEA International Prize for Leadership and named Malaga’s Woman of the Year by the Malaga Association of Publishers. She also received the Paul Harris Recognition Diploma from the Costa Brava Rotary Club, the Bridges of the World International Prize for her “Work as a Patron”, the Luis Cierco Prize for Tourism Promotion from the Marbella Tourist Office and the Protecturi Prize for the Protection of Historical Heritage.

The Cofrades Mantilla Prize in honour of the city of Marbella was presented to her in 2013, as well as the ADEPMA Businesswoman of the Year prize, the Sport and Culture Prize for the Best Cultural Initiative and the Malaga Honour Medal from Malaga County Council, and the Gold Medal from the ESERP School of Business and Social Sciences. In 2014 she received the TELVA Prize for the Best Ambassador for Madrid in the World, the 2014 Starlite Philanthropy Award, the 2014 Laurel Platinum International Award and the Police Merit Cross with white ribbon awarded by the State Security Services. In July, 2015, she was granted the Tourism Merit Medal by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism for her outstanding work at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid and in October Prize of Cultural & Artistic Labour Carreño-Miranda (The Corps of Nobility–The Principality of Asturias). In 2016 Award of “Menina Ventera”.

In 1999 Baroness Thyssen publicly expressed her wish that a part of her collection should be loaned for eleven years for display in the new galleries of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, once again revealing her dedication and commitment to making the Collection as accessible as possible. The signing of the loan agreement between the Baroness and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport marked the start of the Museum's extension project, which culminated with its opening in the spring of 2004.

March 2011 saw the opening of the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, which houses the Baroness's collection of Andalusian painting. Likewise, the Carmen Thyssen Space was inaugurated in the summer of 2012 in Sant Feliu de Guíxols (Gerona). Located in the Abbot’s Palace at the monastic complex in the town, this arts centre puts on temporary exhibitions from June to October with different subjects from the Carmen Thyssen Collection.

The Baroness currently holds the positions of Vice President of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation in Madrid, President of the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga, President of the Carmen Thyssen Collection of Catalan Painting managed by the Carmen Thyssen Space in Sant Feliu de Guíxols and Honorary Vice President of the Andorra Museum Foundation.

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