From Corot to Van Gogh at the Thyssen Museum

Irene Sanchez

Painting outdoors is the common theme of this exhibition.


It could be difficult to gather under one roof the originality of Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, the historical landscapes of William Turner, and the colorful brushstrokes of Paul Cézanne. Difficult, but not impossible. In fact, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum recently exhibited a selection of works from the Impressionist movement, from its predecessors in the 18th century to the final stage in the early 20th century: a starting point for new ways of expression that lead to the development of modernism.

Painting outdoors is the common theme among all the pieces selected for this exhibition. Landscape painting had evolved inside the artist’s studios through the 19th century, but artists were forced to leave the comforts of their studios and venture outdoors to avoid the limitations of painting from memory. Many abandoned the conventional representation of mythological, biblical or heroic themes to face, brush in hand and outdoors, the recreation of unspoiled romantic landscapes.

CLAUDE MONET. The Cliff and Porte d’Aval in Bad Weather, 1883.

Corot to Van Gogh was the title of the exhibition at the Thyssen, pointing to the stylistic transition observed over a specific period. The displayed allowed access to up to 113 works from the most important artists of the time, highlighting William Turner, John Constable, Camille Corot, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Gustave Courbet, Charles-François Daubigny, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, among others.

The first landscape painters, in the strictest sense, emerged at the end of the 18th century, although their works were considered “minor” at the time. From 1820, the Englishman John Constable and Camille Corot made landscapes the most important part of their artisitc production.

The Forest of Fontainebleau, in the vicinity of Paris, served as inspiration for many of the neoclassical painters, and later to the Barbizon School (1830 – 1870), represented here by Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Charles-François Daubigny.

JOHN CONSTABLE. Rainstorm over the Sea, c. 1824-1828.

The practice of painting outdoors became the focus of artistic debate in the city, and the century, that represented Impressionism: 19th century Paris. Then and there, the most original artists of this crucial era for the history of art, gave the world their most important works.

Monet´s Sunsets on the Banks of the River Epte, Sisley´s colorful autumn scenes along the Seine, and the agitated Low Tide at Yport (1883) by Renoir became studies on nature, and were recognized as “definitive works”. In addition, they opened the doors for future artists to follow their trends, culminating with Van Gogh’s Hospital in Saint Rémy (1889-90) and the emotion laden brushstrokes of Emil Nolde.

Each hall in the exhibition was dedicated to the settings that caught the attention of these geniuses: the sea, Fontainebleau forest, mountains, streams, waterfalls, rivers and brooks; rocks, trees, the sky and the clouds, plants and buildings (ruins and rooftops) interspersed with nature that brought much needed vitality to landscape painting.


Address: Paseo del Prado 8. 28014, Madrid.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.00 to 19.00.
Saturday from 10.00 to 21.00.
Last admission: one hour before closing.

Temporary Exhibition
General admission: 10 €
Reduced admission: 6 € for people aged 65 and over, pensioners, students, previous accreditation and large families.
Free admission: children under 12 and citizens in legal unemployment situation.

Temporary exhibition + Permanent collection
General admission: 15 €
Reduced admission: 8 €
Free admission: children under 12 and citizens in legal unemployment situation.
Advance ticket les at box offices, on the Museum website or call 902-760-511.
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Audio‐guide available in several languages.


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