Barons Carmen and Borja Thyssen-Bornemisza have reached an agreement with the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport to lease part of their collection to the museum. It establishes that a wide selection of international works will remain to be exhibited in this museum for the next 15 years, with a purchase option at the expiration of the lease, with an annual rental price of 6.5 million euros. As a result, the museum has installed a new display of this collection in its galleries on the ground floor, accounting with its own entrance at the main hall. This new location and presentation will allow the collection to be rediscovered, now with a more coherent, global vision. The display is chronological, starting with 17th century Dutch painting and concluding with 20th century art.
The Carmen Thyssen Collection stems from the natural continuation of the historic family collection. Currently, it is considered as one of the most important private collections in the world. It was presented to the public for the first time in 1996 at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, in the same ground floor galleries where the new display has now been installed. That exhibition, which was entitled From Canaletto to Kandinsky. Masterpieces from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, was followed by numerous presentations of the collection around the world, from China to the United States, including Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany, in addition to several Spanish cities, before its installation in the extension of the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in 2004.
Highlights of the works of the Carmen Thyssen Collection at the museum
*The digital catalogue includes 298 works out of 328 which sum up in the loan of the Carmen Thyssen Collection.
The core of the collection comes from the family inheritance in the form of works that were not included in the group acquired by the Spanish State in 1993. They include important examples of Old Master painting such as Jan Brueghel I’s Garden of Eden and Portrait of a young Woman by Fragonard; the four sculptures by Rodin commissioned from the artist by August Thyssen, the Baron’s grandfather, which were the works that initiated the family collection; and above all a large number of Impressionist, Post-impressionist, Expressionist and North American paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries. This group was expanded with new purchases made by the Baron and Baroness from 1993 onwards and later by Carmen Thyssen alone. The acquisitions made by the Baroness have aimed to strengthen the core groups within the collection and emphasise its continuity while also reflecting her own taste, principally her love of landscape painting and of movements such as Impressionism and German Expressionism in which the experience of colour reaches its peak.
The permanent cession of the family collection to the Spanish State was probably one of the facts that encouraged me to consolidate my own collection. Sharing my life with my husband for so many years has contributed to inspiring my passion for painting still more and I was by his side when deciding on the acquisition of many paintings that are now in the museum in Madrid. [...] It was in 1993 that I accepted the challenge of personally continuing the activity which has brought most fame to the surname of Thyssen-Bornemisza throughout this century.