There are other Breughels in this room, they appear to absorb everyone’s attention: they feature peasant feasts, children’s games and Dutch proverbs. They are Renaissance man’s equivalent of shopping mall people watching. But to me, above all, Breughel is a brilliant landscapist, with a clearly identifiable, unique hand. It is almost as if Breughel served two patrons, one who was a People Person, and one – one a lot more like me.
At first, the Old Masters collection of Thyssen-Boremisza in Madrid disappoints. It can hardly do otherwise: the expectations set up by the famous pieces they hold — a Claude, two Bronzinos, a Velvet Breughel, a Carpaccio — are so very high. But the collection suffers from the “late-arrival” syndrome: by the time collection-gathering swung into full tilt, the best pieces had already been permanently taken off the market: as a result, with the exception of the handful famous pieces everyone already knows about, T-B is full of minor masters, and very minor works by the great masters, and even minorer ones only attributed to them — usually not very convincingly. (It’s supposed to have an important post 1900-collection, but how on earth would I know anything about that?)
The museum does contain a wonderful surprise, however: a large collection of late 19th century American academic landscapes — which are very good indeed. If it weren’t for the topics, you’d swear these were 17th century Dutch. This is perhaps the greatest pleasure one can experience in a museum: to discover something completely new and unheard of.
Thank you, Miss T.
PS. If, like me, you are new to this world, here are a few names for you: William Bradford , John Frederick Kensett , Frederic Edwin Church , Albert Bierstadt , William Trost Richards.
The Edirne’s Selimiye is Sinan’s most beautiful, most graceful construction. It also sports arguably the finest, best-painted, most beautiful Iznik tiles ever.
The Muradiye complex in Edirne — like the Muradiye complex in Bursa — was built by a pious Sultan (Murad II) for a religious community he always said he intended to join himself (and did — twice, each time abdicating in order to do so).
Both complexes were built well outside city walls – suggesting another calculation behind the foundation: religious communities of single men living together are famously troublesome and the Sultan may have been shipping the dervishes out of his way. Each foundation was a vast project for its time: a large, beautifully decorated mosque (which doubled as the dervish residence). a medresa (school), a soup kitchen.
As the cities grew, both Muradiyes became located downtown; but the dramatic shrinkage of Edirne in modern times (from perhaps 250K in 1600s to 20K today) means that the Edirne Muradiye once again lies outside the city walls. One reaches it via a dusty road with a few low lying buildings, an itinerant vendor selling fresh cheese out of a donkey cart, old men playing backgammon in the shade of a weeping willow. The mosque is locked, but in the summer the hoca gives religion lessons to seven ragged gypsy children; he lets you in and leaves you alone to do all the photographing and sketching you want; and if you speak two words of Turkish, he’ll treat you to the sweets from his lunchbox.
The tiles of the Edirne Muradiye are very special. They were clearly painted by a master painter; not every one is unique – there are several repeats – but most are; no similar Iznik tiles have been found anywhere else.
I take back what I said about Prado in connection with Mr Strobel. Here is a much larger version of it. And here you can view it in detail. Below are a few choice tidbits.