By María Eugenia Alonso, Mar Borobia y Dolores Delgado
The selection of paintings on this tour highlights some of those great little moments in life captured in figures that feature in the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza’s collections. Many of these moments are linked to leisure pursuits or celebrations where diversions – either planned or spontaneous – are a welcome break from routine, and provide enjoyment and happiness.
Among these pleasures, music has a special place, featuring on the canvases of artists like Bologna’s Giuseppe Maria Crespi, where it reveals the refined tastes of the sitter, or of Johan Zoffany, where it livens up a family party. Music, poetry, courtship and theatre, all out of doors, are the choices of Jean-Antoine Watteau for his garden gathering. Play is another common pastime shown, represented on this itinerary by the singular game of cards depicted by Lucas van Leyden. Taverns and tavern life was a subject that also appealed to artists; David Teniers II explores the pleasure of pipe-smoking and sharing the moment in company. The rigours of winter are no excuse for the characters in the painting by Jan Josephsz. van Goyen who make the frozen river an attractive spot for sledging and skating. Nor is the heat an impediment for the young people depicted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard as they turn a tree branch in dense woodland into the perfect opportunity to swing high up into the air during an exciting day in the country. Free time can also be devoted to cultural activities which stimulate the senses in works of art like Pieter Hendricksz. de Hooch’s oil painting. These leisure moments can also be used for matters of the heart, as shown by the François Clouet painting included here, or for a harmless prank to lighten up a dull afternoon, as presented in the oil painting by Pietro Longhi.