In order to pursue this subject, the present route will introduce the artists in question through fourteen selected paintings. It starts with works from the 15th century when the spread of the use of the oil technique offered painters a new way of representing reality and one in which detail and precision were fundamental. This is evident in the works by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Joachim Patinir and others.

From the late 16th century and throughout the 17th century a range of subjects began to be depicted by artists working in both the Southern Provinces (Flanders) and the Northern Provinces. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection has paintings by the leading Flemish artists of this period — Rubens, Van Dyck and Anthonis Mor — as well as a notably comprehensive collection of paintings by Dutch artists — Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Nicolas Maes, Jacob van Ruisdael and Willem Kalf — who worked in genres such as portraiture, scenes of daily life, landscape and still life. These themes were all particularly popular with middle-class mercantile clients who were interested in decorating their houses with works of this type, resulting in a flourishing art market in Dutch cities.

Our survey ends with Dutch and Belgian artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, represented in the Collection by names of the stature of Vincent van Gogh, Anton Mauve, James Ensor, Piet Mondrian and René Magritte.