Marie Cecile Thijs

  • Selected Works

    Flowers, Vases & Delftware

    In this multi-faceted series Marie Cecile Thijs brings to life a surrealistic world of flora and fauna. Using strong light and dark contrasts, and using authentic 17th-century Delftware vases, these contemporary works connect the past to the present.


    Portraits of autonomous young women. By combining historic references with contemporary portraiture, these works acquire a sense of timelessness. Silent Thought is included in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, USA (VMFA).

    White Collar

    'White Collar' is an autonomous photo project of Marie Cecile Thijs, which she started in 2009. The models are 'wearing' a 17th-century antique ruff collar that belongs to the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Because this collar is so delicate and rare, it was photographed by Marie Cecile Thijs - separately and under special conditions - in the Rijksmuseum and was later digitally added to the models.

    Photos Girl with White Collar at table and Cat with White Collar are included in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (NL) since 2010. In that same year, Girl with White Collar was selected by the curator of the photo museum Chicago for the international Art of Photography Show.

    About the ruff collar (information by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam):
    'This collar is made of particularly fine batiste or cambric. As the name suggests, the material originally came from the Flemish town of Kamerijk or Cambrai. It was introduced to the Northern Netherlands by the Flemish refugees who arrived in the late sixteenth century. Haarlem weavers specialised in the fabric. Because of its shape, this kind of collar was known as a millstone ruff. These became fashionable in the second half of the sixteenth century under the influence of the Spanish rulers. Early millstone ruffs were starched with regular pleats. This collar, however, is looser and less tidy. It is of a type that was popular with young, fashionable men around 1615 to 1635. This is the only surviving pleated ruff in the world.'

    Green scenes

    In this series, alienating combinations of plants and flowers form a brand new green realm. In this futuristic world the human hand seems to have disappeared, giving free rein to climate, plants and animals.


    Surrealistic portraits of majestic cats, with a nod to human nature. Works in this series have been exhibited at the Kunsthal Rotterdam in the Netherlands, at the exhibition called "Cat Love, Nine lives in the arts" in 2017-2018.


    This series is inspired by the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Historical symbols like the Tudor Rose and the black raven of the Tower of London are references to the many battles that were fought, the intrigues at court and the struggle for the crown.

    Food Portraits

    A series with culinary portraits of food. Tranquil and yet dynamic and slightly surrealistic, affecting the essence of food. Like pink oyster mushrooms under a bell jar, storm in glasses of water, distilled Umami and artichoke dripping in oil. There are also pictures showing terroir, chanterelles growing on bread, weighted seabass in salt and bleeding beetroot.

    Winner of the first place in the 7th Photography Masters Cup 2014 (Chickpeas) and awarded in the IPA 2013 (International Photography Awards).


    Each portrait of a chef cook is a small scene out of life, showing dedication, craftsmanship and mastery.


    Marie Cecile Thijs responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by creating her latest work Biospheres. Reminiscent of her earlier work The Kiss, Marie Cecile Thijs sees a new society where distance is key. In her series, flowers attain human characteristics; they remain attracted to each other, no matter the barriers and challenges put before them.

    The image reminds us that even in a period of social distancing we are inspired to care for each other, the biosphere does not just serve one, but is there for all of us.


    The horse has inspired many artists over the centuries. Marie Cecile Thijs is fascinated by this elegant and powerful animals since her childhood. Therefore, she has given the horse a place in her portrait photography. She has created a Black and White Unicorn (with an antique narwhal tooth) and she portraited Salinero, an Olympic horse. The portrait of Salinero is included in the collection of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Most recent is her portrait of the Horse with the Blue Eyes.

    Human Angels

    Marie Cecile Thijs depicts angels as man's impromptu companions. In her work, angels are a timeless metaphor representing hope and autonomy. She intermingles the surreal world of angels with today's world to create a new reality. She mainly shows angels in more of a traditional portrait setting, partly inspired by classical painting and sculpture.

  • Biography


    The Netherlands , 1964

    Marie Cécile Thijs is an artist with a distinctive signature. Her portraits are still lifes, and her still lifes become portraits. She is influenced by the old masters in painting, yet her work is clearly contemporary. Stillness is key.

    The work of Marie Cecile Thijs plays with temporality. By connecting past and present, she creates an unreal, and surrealistic relationship with our notion of time. The images represent an unclassifiable moment.
    When she constructs an image, she looks at the object as if she had never seen it, even if it is a familiar object. This allows her to deconstruct the image she had in mind in order to build a new one.
    Her work tends to represent a parallel world where time and space have different dimensions. Every detail seems familiar—real—but at second glance everything is different. The totality is at once obvious and foreign. In her world, the absurd is the norm.
    Each photograph starts with an idea that she develops in her imagination before looking for ways to stage and communicate to the viewer.

    Marie Cécile Thijs, originally a lawyer, decided more than fifteen years ago to follow her love for the camera. She is specialised in staged photography, and created the series White Collar, Food Portraits, Cooks, Horses and Human Angels, which are still in progress to this day. She also made many portraits of writers, politicians, designers and artists. Most recent she made still life series Asia > Amsterdam in cooperation with Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and EU 2016 Mementos in assignment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Her work has often been published and exhibited, her photos have repeatedly received international acclaim and are included in the collections of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Museum Rotterdam and many public and private art collections. She published several books, most recent Characters (2013) en Food Portraits (2015).

    Marie Cecile Thijs had her first retrospective in Museum aan het Vrijthof Maastricht in 2015. Also her work has been exhibited at TEFAF Maastricht and Art Miami in the same year. In 2016 she was part of the exhibition Dutch Identity in Museum De Fundatie Zwolle. Also her photographs have been exhibited in the EU 2016 paviljon in Amsterdam on the occasion of the chairmanship of the European Union by the Netherlands during the first six months of 2016. She had a solo show sponsored by the Dutch authorities at Corso Como in Shanghai in 2016.

    Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Richmond
    Museum of History and Art in Luxembourg
    Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego
    Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
    Museum Rotterdam

  • Exhibitions

    Exhibitions and Fairs


    2021 | Art Up Lille | Lille Grand Palais, stand E2


    2020 | The Cat, The Crown and The Collar | Galerie XII Shanghai

    2020 | Départ immédiat - Boarding Pass Confirmation | 42 rue de Montmorency - 75003 Paris

    2020 | 3 women. 3 generations . 3 perspectives | Galerie XII Paris


    2018 | Art Elysées - Art & Design | Paris

    2018 | Tussen Hemel en Aarde | Jan Cunem Museum

    2018 | TEFAF Maastricht / Smith Davidson Gallery |

    2018 | We are Food | Museum Jan Cunen

    2018 | Food! Food in the Arts | Museum Nairac


    2017 | Photofairs Shanghai 2017 | Shanghai Exhibition Center, stand B05

    2017 | Art Miami / Smith Davidson Gallery |

    2017 | TEFAF Maastricht / Smith Davidson Gallery |

    2017 | Cat Love | Kunsthall Rotterdam

    2017 | Zona Maco Mexico City / Smith Davidson Gallery |


    2016 | Stills in Motion | 10 Corso Como, Shanghai

    2016 | Dutch Identity, 25 Dutch Portrait Photographers | Museum De Fundatie Zwolle

    2016 | Art New York, Smith Davidson Gallery |

    2016 | Portraits | EU pavilion on the occasion of the chairmanship of the European Union

    2016 | The Animal in Photography | Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego USA

    2016 | Kunsthaus Aaartfoundation Kirchberg, Austria |

    2016 | TEFAF Maastricht 2016, SmithDavidson Gallery |


    2015 | Solo show | Museum aan het Vrijthof Maastricht

    2015 | White Collar | TEFAF Maastricht

    2015 | Art Miami, SmithDavidson Gallery |

    2015 | Art Fair Cologne, Germany, Art 22 Gallery |


    2013 | Food Portraits | Eduard Planting, Amsterdam


    2012 | Cooks | New York photofestival Photoville

    2012 | The Last Dance, Highlights by curator Suzanne Dechert | Melkweg Gallery Amsterdam


    2011 | Salinero, White Collar, Majestic | PAN Amsterdam | Gallery Eduard Planting


    2010 | Art of Photography Show / White Collar | Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago


    2009 | Human Angels | PAN Amsterdam | Gallery Eduard Planting


    2007 | Portraits | Melkweg Gallery Amsterdam


    2005 | Human Angels | Melkweg Gallery Amsterdam

  • Press
  • Bibliography


    0001 | Food Portraits
    EPFAP Publishing, Amsterdam, 2015 Hardcover. 25 x 25 cm. 120 p.

    0001 | Characters
    Uitgeverig Lecturis, 2013 32x24cm, 144 p. Softcover, flaps.