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From Cranach to Monet - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Claude Monet, Antibes, 1888. Oil o canvas. 65.4 x 81.3 cm.

MADRID, SPAIN.- The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum opened From Cranach to Monet. Masterpieces from the Pérez Simón Collection, the first public display of this important private Mexican collection. A total of 57 paintings by some of the great names in the history of art – including Cranach, Rubens, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Goya, Corot, Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Pissarro, Renoir and Van Gogh – will provide visitors with a synthesis of the most important movements in art history from the 14th to the 19th centuries. In addition and for the first time, it will offer an overview of what is considered one of the most significant private collections in Latin America.

The Pérez Simón Collection: Comprising more than 1,000 works and including paintings, sculpture, drawings, the decorative arts and manuscripts from the 14th to the 19th centuries, this Mexican collection is well known and highly esteemed by art historians and a reference point for experts. Works from the collection have been included in a number of temporary exhibitions and museum projects but have never before been presented as a group.

The Pérez Simón Collection is also known as the JAPS Collection, the initials of its creator, Juan Antonio Pérez Simón, and of the foundation that manages it: Juntos Actuando por la Superación A.C.. It was founded in early 1970 and is currently embarked on a project to create its own museum. In addition to the conservation, study and dissemination of the works in the Collection, the Foundation’s aim is to encourage the development of cultural and artistic projects that enrich the taste and awareness of the Mexican public in the field of the fine arts.

Aesthetic rigour and the careful selection of works, as well as the unique personality and tastes of the Collection’s owner are the characteristics that define the Pérez Simón Collection. Among its particular traits are the clear interest in female beauty, nature, scenes from daily life that juxtapose earthly pleasures with the ephemeral nature of existence as found in still lifes, and a fascination with the use of light and colour, principally in the transition from Academic painting to modern art.

While placing particular emphasis on the 17th and 19th centuries – the latter the particular focus of the present exhibition - the Collection also has fine examples of early 20th-century avant-garde art as well as an important group of contemporary Latin American paintings and sculptures. The continuous process of acquisition over the last two decades has been principally aimed at filling the significant gaps in the collections of Mexican museums and collections.

Before its permanent installation in a specially-designed museum that will open in the near future in Mexico City, the official presentation of the Collection at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum allows the visitor to appreciate the parallels between the two collections. These are principally their origins as private collections, the international nature of their holdings, and the complementary role that both Foundations play in the cultural scene of their respective countries, given that both collections have works by leading artists and movements not otherwise found in private or public institutions in those countries. They are also united by the desire expressed by their respective founders, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and Juan Antonio Pérez Simón, to exhibit their collections to the public as a result of their conviction that “art should be shared”, in the words of both. This desire has influenced the history of both collections and the institutions that manage them.

The exhibition: From the more than 400 Old Master paintings in the Pérez Simón Collection, the exhibition’s curator, Roxana Velásquez Martínez del Campo, has selected an important group which includes magnificent examples of Italian, German, Flemish, Dutch, French and British works. Particularly outstanding is the selection of 19th-century paintings, as this is one of the finest areas within the Collection, especially Victorian and Impressionism painting.

The exhibition is organised chronologically, running from the 14th to the 19th centuries, and within this structure by schools, as follows:

Room 1 - Italian and German Schools, 14th to 15th Centuries: The first room includes two Madonna and Child paintings by Spinello Aretino and Benvenuto di Giovanni, as well as the Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo by Agnolo di Cosimo, better known as Bronzino. Two works by Lucas Cranach, one of the great figures of the German Renaissance, complete the display, namely Charity and Saint Jerome writing in a rocky Landscape.

Room 2 – Flemish and Dutch Schools, 17th Century: 17th-century Flemish painting is represented by a Virgin and Child blessing by the great master Rubens, as well as paintings by three other leading names of this school: Brueghel, Van Dyck and Teniers. The section on Dutch works opens with painting by Pieter Claesz, who specialised in still lifes, then continues with Ferdinand Bol, a pupil and follower of Rembrandt, and closes with two genre paintings by Jan Steen and Jacob Toorenvliet.

Room 3 – Italian, Flemish, French and Spanish Schools, 18th Century: The room on 18th-century painting opens with a number of fine examples of vedute or view painting by two of the most important artists in this genre: Canaletto, who mainly worked in Venice, and Gianpaolo Panini, who was based in Rome. Also represented is Tiepolo, the leading figure of Venetian 18th-century painting. The room is completed by two flower still-lifes by the Dutch painter Jan van Os, a portrait by Marc Nattier, representing 18th-century French painting, and Goya’s portrait of María Teresa de Vallabriga y Rozas.

Room 4 – Academic Painting and Realism, 19th Century: From Bouguereau to Cabanel, leaders of the most conservative academic style, to the new sensibility of Corot, Lhermitte and Dupré, French 19th-century painting is represented here in all its numerous aspects. History painting, the nude, landscape and the new genre of rural scenes mark the start of the 19th-century section, which is so well represented in the Pérez Simón Collection and hence in the present exhibition.

Rooms 5 and 6 – Victorian Paintings, 19th Century: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James Jacques Tissot, Albert Joseph Moore and John William Waterhouse are among the leading names of the Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic movements, completing a dazzling section devoted to 19th-century British painting. This is a little-known school in Spain and is barely represented in national museums. It therefore comprises one of the most interesting sections within the exhibition.

Room 7 – Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, 19th Century: The section on 19th-century painting and the exhibition itself conclude with works by some of the leading names of the Impressionist and Post-impressionist movements: Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. This room features magnificent examples of the leading genres in which these artists worked, primarily landscape as well as some portraits and still lifes. Together they constitute another of the most important areas within the Pérez Simón Collection.

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