In Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Old Masters

Above is just a couple of random impressions from the museum, and below you will find many more pictures I took there. Because of the large number, I will show only the works of ‘Old Masters’, and will write a separate posting about more modern ones.

Here we are approaching the museum in Madrid.  I didn’t manage to take the picture of the building and the entrance (I usually try to capture these elements too), but these days any one can rely on Google Maps:

Here is the info desk – very friendly, thus always crowded:

And here is the museum plan – notice that there is still an ‘analogue’ version but already a digital one as well:

But I rarely follow any plans or guides in the museum, and prefer to stroll freely through the halls.

For some artworks I managed to also get their descriptions, but for many more not, and simply passed by; there TOO many of them there for any careful exploration anyway.

So called Naughty Drummer, by Nicolaes Maes (c.1665)

I once wrote a lengthy piece about ‘Dutch Mirrors’ (see On mirrors, tables and walls (and yes, girls too)), but I think I have missed this work by then; can’t remember why, I have a feeling that I knew about this painting, but the memory didn’t bring it up in the right moment.

Below is the detail with the mirror (and the painter itself in it, since it is in fact a self-portrait, too):

As you see, the quality is rather low, because the light in the museum rooms was pretty bad. One could even wonder as to why taking pictures at all, if you can find better copies of them at the museum site itself? Below is roughly the same fragment as above, but made by professional photographer, I assume:


Roelant SaveryMountain Landscape with a Castle (c.1609)

Detail with the fantastic mountains:

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam – The West Facade of the Mariakerk, Utrecht (c.1662)

It was funny to discover the pictures of the Dutch buildings – the ones that I could have likely seen, although I can’t remember seeing this one in Utrecht – and where! in Madrid! But then of course.

This one shows I was not the only one there talking pictures, far from it. The painting itself, to my knowledge, depicts the cathedral in Haarlem.

This is again a place in Amsterdam where we have been – if not precisely, than nearby:

Gerrit Adriaensz BerckheydeThe Nieuwezijds Voorburgswal, Amsterdam (1686)

Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael Canal with Commercial Building in Winter (c.1670) and its detail, below

Jan van de CappelleWinter Landscape (c.1660s)


Jan Jansz. TreckStill-Life with a Wine-Glass on a Stand, Pewter Jug and Other Objects (c.1640s)

I took a couple of pictures with the details of this work, trying to capture different reflections at work:

Willem Claesz HedaStill Life with Rummer, Silver Tazza, Pie, and other Objects (1634)


This one shows how many people are actually there:

From this point I went to the rooms with more modern masters, but for the topic of this posting I will skip them for now (and will write a separate posting about these works later), and focus on the ‘old art’. There was a lot of it there!

I didn’t realize that this painting, of Venus and Mars, by Italian Carlo Saraceni, is so small; I wrote about it some years ago, when exploring the connections between mirrors and shields (see Volcanic Reflections), but never paid attention to the size of the work back then:

Here is its shield-mirror:

François Clouet Le Billet Doux (c.1570)

And two its mise-en-scènes

Ambrosius BensonGentleman at Prayer (c.1525)

This was a very interesting work itself – Portrait of a Man (recto)(1487), by German master Wolfgang Beurer, aslo known as Master W.B.

It’s very expressive, and also has a very interesting composition – which also hints that there should be more meanings embedded here:

But it is also displayed in an interesting way, in a sort of case that allows to see both sides of the work:

The verso part is not so impressive (but partly because it is also not so well preserved):

(Its official title is Wild Man with Escutcheon)

The famous work by Jan de Beer, The Birth of Saint Mary (c.1520)

I wrote about this work already few years – see De Beer & The Grandma’s Mirror, and then later too, when exploring the issue of Non-Mirrors in the works of Flemish masters of 15-16th centuries. Here was I able to see many more details of its two ‘mirrors’:

Another work of the same master, of the version of his Annunciations, this one without a (non)mirror:

Martinus van  Reymerswaele The Calling of Saint Matthew (c.1530)

Jacob Cornelisz van OostsanenPortrait of a Lady (Queen Isabella of Denmark?) (c.1524)

Anonymous Flemish Master – Standing Madonna and Child in Triumphal Setting (c.1520)

Jan MostaertKneeling Female Donor with Redeemed of the Old Testament (c.1520)

Anonymous Flemish Master – Rest on the Flight to Egypt (c.1540)

Detail (upper register)

Detail (bottom register)

Joachim PatinirLandscape with the Rest on the Flight to Egypt (c.1515)


Joos van Cleve Infant Saviour on Winged Orb (c.1530)

Detail (the Orb)

Bernaert van Orley The Rest on the Flight to Egypt (c.1515)

Jan Wellens de CockThe Temptation of Saint Antony (c.1520)

Detail (bottom register)

I once wrote a posting about iconography of the Temptations of St.Anthony, and specifically on the role that mirrors played in it (see Black Mirrors of St.Anthony). I would of course love to reveal yet another ‘mirror’ in the hands of one of the ‘tempting ladies’, but alas, it looks it is not – although I don’t know what it actually is, what this lady is holding on her hand.

There is another object that resemble a mirror, we can see it hanging on a tree, beneath the owl:

This could be a depiction of Ulenspiegel, Owl and Spiegel (=Mirror), the notoriously famous attributes of witchery.

Cosimo Tura – Saint John the Evangelist in Patmos (c.1470)

Lorenzo Costa – The Virgin and Child enthroned (c. 1495)


Juan de FlandersThe Lamentation over the dead Christ (c.1500)

Petrus ChristusThe Virgin of the Dry Tree (c.1465)

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