Posts Tagged ‘Prado’

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Revisited or Caravaggio Tart Art

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Collection in Madrid continues to qualify ever more as a misguided cultural and financial ‘investment’ for the State of Spain.

Every day that passes, the art becomes more of a tourist attraction and less of a cultural statement, with a corresponding reduction in quality and authenticity.

Meanwhile treasury budgets have sored, fundraising activities become ever more ambitious and competitive, while the original owners, on the other hand, continue to exploit tax advantages inherent in the business of art collecting.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza collection has always been at the forefront of such mirages, ever since, in 1993, the Thyssen family sold half of Heini Thyssen’s highly questionable collection to the Spanish state for what the gullible Spanish public were convinced was a bargain price of some $600 million.

By now they must have begun to realise that the purchase price and cost of housing the museum was only the tip of the iceberg. For then you have to constantly invest more money in such necessities as staff, insurance, the cost of mounting one-off exhibitions, whose purpose is to encourage the public to revisit and, finally, the black art of restoration.

The latter being, of course, a contradiction in terms, for the more paint that is added to the surface, the less of the original work can legitimately be attributed to the artist in question. This is particularly relevant in the case of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, which has often been accused of already suffering from over-restoration.

But as the restorers are the same people as those who advise on how much restoration is needed, it rapidly becomes an ever increasing financial burden, to the point where the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum has even had to resort to crowd funding and sponsorship to raise the finance needed to undertake such activities!

The latest example of this artistic vandalism is Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio, originally commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, which, according to the Thyssen-Bornemiza Museum’s restoration ‘team’, had already suffered from ‘aggressive’ restoration at some unspecified earlier point in time.

Ironically, considering the rumours surrounding Heini’s widow Tita Thyssen-Bornemisza’s colourful past history, the model for the picture was anything but saintly and was in fact Fillide Melandroni, a leading courtesan of the time.

Originally attributed to Orazio Gentileschi, the painting was ‘re-attributed’ to Caravaggio when scholars began to realise that they could make more money from confirming rather than denying the authenticity of art.

For this claim to be accepted by other ‘scholars’, it was also necessary to re-establish the status of a remarkably similar work, owned by the Prado and deposited in the church Iglesia de los Jeronimos, as being a mere ‘copy’.

There can now be little doubt that like many similar national institutions, the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum has become, as I warned them it would, more of a financial tread-mill than a cultural asset.

Fortunately, due to the fact that the Spanish agreed to sign a contract that prevents them from ever selling or disposing of any of the works that make up the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, the value of the works is somewhat academic.

Thus they might be best advised to get rid of their costly restoration team and follow the example of my late mother, who used to add sparkle to our artistic family treasures by giving them an annual wipe with a diluted mixture of toilet cleaner!

 

see this article by Natividad Pulido in the Spanish ABC newspaper of 21.10.2018:

https://www.abc.es/cultura/arte/abci-retrato-cortesana-como-santa-paso-manos-cardenales-201810210128_noticia.html

CARAVAGGIO (Michelangelo Merisi) Saint Catherine of Alexandria, ca. 1598 (photo copyright Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid)

A representative of the ASISA charity funding the restoration (middle), with two representatives of the Thyssen Museum Madrid (photo copyright: Guillermo Navarro, ABC newspaper, Spain)

The ‘restoration’ team at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid, Spain (photo copyright: Giullermo Navarro, ABC newspaper, Spain)

 

 

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Thyssen Art Elevator Hits Spanish Buffers

At last! Spain begins to question the quality of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, what the taxpayers might have got for their money and the wisdom of paying yet more money for ‘Tita’s Collection’. These were all things we have been publicly questioning for the last three years. So why has it taken so long? Without wishing to sound cynical, could it be a result of the credit crunch? While Spain was flooded with Euros, nobody wanted to see the King naked.

Today’s critic, Dr Juan Jose Junquera, is a Professor of Art History at Complutense University in Madrid, and as such could hardly claim to be a stranger to the collection. Perhaps the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation Board, particularly Sir Norman Rosenthal, will now be obliged to make a comment, though with Rosenthal’s wife still working at the Prado, he could of course be accused of a conflict of interest.

The following is a translation of the Spanish original from today’s ABC newspaper.

No wonder Tita is busy preparing Villa Favorita in Lugano for re-occupancy. This feature looks to me like the Culture Ministry’s way of say ‘No’ to any further deals with Tita and if this one hits the buffers, Malaga looks ever less likely.

“After reading Carmen Cervera’s declarations in ABC on Sunday 3 January, I’ve had the following thoughts: I’m not doubting the generosity of her offer to loan the Thyssen Collection, but I’m asking myself of how much interest it actually is to the Spanish taxpayers. We still don’t know which paintings will stay in Spain once the current cession agreement concerning the collection of her late husband, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, ends, which was a question raised in its day by the then Director of the Prado, Professor Perez Sanchez, and to which there still hasn’t been a reply. In the meantime, the Prado lacks good quality Dutch paintings, such as Franz Hals, gaps which the Dutch Masters of the Thyssen Collection cannot fill. Is it really advisable to spend the few Euros that the Culture Minisry has available in order to rent a Gauguin escorted by paintings of somewhat dubious quality and authenticity on a background of nineteenth century artists whose works already gather dust in the storage rooms of both the Prado and provincial museums? Nobody doubts the commercial acumen of Baroness Thyssen; but what we mustn’t do is buy a lift for a bungalow without discussing the matter in public.”

http://www.abc.es/20100110/opinion-cartas/lectores-20100110.html

ABC Y SUS LECTORES,  Domingo , 10-01-10

……..«La atenta lectura de las declaraciones de doña Carmen Cervera en ABC del domingo 3 de enero me sugiere unas reflexiones -dice JUAN JOSÉ JUNQUERA, catedrático de Historia del Arte de la Universidad Complutense-. No es que dude de la generosidad de su oferta de alquiler de la colección Thyssen, pero me pregunto hasta qué punto éste interesa a los contibuyentes españoles. Aún no sabemos cuáles son los cuadros que quedarán en España cuando acabe el convenio vigente de cesión de la colección de su difunto marido, el barón Thyssen-Bornemisza, pregunta que formuló en su día el que era director del Prado, profesor Pérez Sánchez y que aún no tiene respuesta. Mientras, el Prado carece de holandeses de calidad como Franz Hals, huecos que no cubren los maestros holandeses de la Colección Thyssen. ¿Realmente interesa gastar los poco euros de que dispone Cultura en alquilar un Gauguin escoltado por cuadros bien de dudosa calidad o autenticidad, bien de segundones decimonónicos cuyas obras decansan en los depósitos del Prado y de los museos de provincias? Nadie duda de las cualidades comerciales de la baronesa viuda Thyssen; lo que no debemos hacer es, sin discutirlo públicamente, comprar un ascensor para un chalet de planta baja……..».

One of Tita's ten 'Gauguins (?)', which could become the subject of her forthcoming 'cleansing' operation (see ABC newspaper on 03.01.2010).

"'The Crucifixion', attributed to a painter from the circle of Sir Anthony van Dyck, which Heini purchased from Sotheby's at the 1995 sale of the Bentinck-Thyssen Collection for only £17,000 and immediately re-attributed to the Master himself" (from: 'The Thyssen Art Macabre' / 'La Historia Secreta de los Thyssen')

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