Gauguin’s ‘Mata mua’ travels back to Spain







El Mata Mua, the work of Paul Gauguin key in the negotiations between Carmen Thyssen and the Spanish Government, which came out in June 2020 from Spain, is already traveling to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, in Madrid, from Andorra.


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The images, published by the ABC newspaper, show the painting leaving the bunker in which he has been protected for two years in Andorra. The operation appears to be supervised by Guillermo Cervera, Baroness Thyssen’s nephew and curator of her collection.

The painting is expected to arrive this Monday afternoon and travels accompanied by a person responsible for supervising its journey, called the courier, who has been designated by its owner, Carmen Thyssen.

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Once it arrives at the museum, a series of online procedures will be carried out, it will be unloaded and will remain packed for twelve hours to stabilize. Tomorrow morning the packaging will be opened, its condition will be reviewed by members of the museum -as is usually done in any transfer- and it will be located in one of the new rooms that house the Carmen Thyssen collection, where it will have a prominent place, according to she has declared herself on numerous occasions.

The painting arrives two days before the signing of the agreement between the baroness and the Spanish Minister of Culture, Miquel Iceta, to be held next Wednesday, February 9 at the art gallery.

In this act, in which her son Borja Thyssen will also participate, the agreement for the rental of her collection will be sealed. The agreement has a term of 15 years and an amount of 6.5 million euros per year (7.4 million dollars).

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Once this time has elapsed, the State may deduct the total amount disbursed (97.5 million euros/111.5 million dollars) from a possible purchase for the collection of the work.

The painting left Spain in June 2020 in full confinement, opening one of the most serious crises between the State and the Baroness for the rental of her collection, whose efforts date back a decade. Carmen Thyssen’s collection is different from that of her husband, Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, owned by the State and acquired in the 1990s.

The Mata Mua (1892) was until her departure from Spain one of the most important paintings of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. The work corresponds to Gauguin’s Tahiti stage (1848-1903), one of the most coveted by the French painter.

Mata Mua (Once Upon a Time) depicts Maori women worshiping Hina, the goddess of the moon. The painting was shown for the first time in an exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery, but it did not arouse much sympathy for its innovative language and Gauguin auctioned it years later to pay for another of his trip, this time to Martinique, where he died.

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