The Mexican-based Pérez Simón Collection is one of the most important private art collections in Latin America. It was begun in the early 1990s and over the past two decades has assembled a large and significant group of works of art. These include not just paintings but also sculptures, works on paper and other objects. Now shown to the public for the first time in Europe, the Pérez Simón Collection aimed from the outset to be international in nature and to complement the holdings of Mexican museums. The time span covered by the works in the collection is a broad one, from the 14th to the mid-20th centuries, with the latter period particularly well represented through outstanding works of modern and contemporary art.
The masterpieces from the Pérez Simón Collection on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum have been assembled in order to offer the visiting public an idea of the richness of the entire collection, of which this selection is representative. The exhibition opens with several 14th century Italian paintings and concludes with a particularly interesting group of 19th century works, one of the strongest areas within the collection.
The first section of the exhibition includes Italian and German paintings from the 14th to the 16th centuries by artists such as Spinello Aretino, Benvenuto di Giovanni, Bronzino and Lucas Cranach the Elder, the latter represented by two panels, one entitled Charity. Among the 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists represented here are Pieter Brueghel II, Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, David Teniers II, Pieter Claesz and Ferdinand Bol, with works depicting religious and allegorical subjects as well as portraits. From the 18th century, canvases by two of Italy`s most celebrated vedutistas, Gian Paolo Pannini and Canaletto, are shown alongside paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo, Jean-Marc Nattier and Francisco de Goya, the latter represented by an outstanding portrait on panel.
The 19th century section has been divided into three parts: Academicism and Realism, Victorian painting, and Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. The subjects of many of these works indicate some of the guiding criteria behind the Pérez Simón Collection, namely the delight in female beauty, sensuality, and love of the landscape. The latter is expressed in scenes of the rural world and country labours. Among the Academic and Realist artists included are Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Alexandre Cabanel, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Julien Dupré. Victorian life and art, with its unique aesthetic, is among the most impressive sections in the exhibition due to the quality and quantity of works on display, including compositions by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, John William Waterhouse and Henry Arthur Payne. The exhibition concludes with canvases by a number of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, including Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. They provide a brilliant conclusion to the chapter on the 19th century and also to this exhibition, in which the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has set out to reveal some of the treasures of this important private Mexican collection.
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