Welcome to the magnificent and surreal world of Marie Cécile Thijs. Portraits of people, animals, flowers and food, they all bear her specific signature. Stillness is key. One can see influences reminiscent of the 17th century Old Masters, at the same time her personal interpretation is completely modern. She plays with her subjects by bringing them to life unexpectedly, or – on the contrary – freezing them in space. Objects become characters. They move away from their daily destination, away from time and space. That provides intriguing creations, where elements like tranquility, dynamics and sometimes also humor meet. You would almost forget that cats normally do not wear collars or that chickpeas are usually located on a plate in stead of floating through the air. In her work the unusual is natural.

My eye on you 

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, Flowers & Vases, Majestic and Human Angels, which are still in progress to this day. She also made many portraits of writers, politicians, designers and artists.

Her series have been published in several media, for example Het Financieele Dagblad (FD Persoonlijk) and French newspaper Le Monde. Her work has repeatedly received international acclaim and is included in the collections of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego (MOPA), the National Museum of History and Art in Luxembourg (Mnha), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (VMFA) and many public and private art collections. She published several books, most recent Characters (2013) en Food Portraits (2015). A new book is in the making (expected fall 2018).

Marie Cecile Thijs had her first retrospective in Museum aan het Vrijthof Maastricht in 2015. Also her work has been exhibited several times at TEFAF Maastricht and Art Miami at SmithDavidson Gallery. In 2016 she was part of the exhibition Dutch Identity in Museum De Fundatie Zwolle and BAL! at Soestdijk Palace. That same year she made still life series Asia > Amsterdam in cooperation with Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and EU 2016 Mementos in assignment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In November 2016 her 3 month during solo exhibition started at 10 Corso Como Shanghai / Gallery Carla Sozzani, in cooperation with the Consulate of The Netherlands in Shanghai. Recently her works Majestic and White Collar were exhibited in Kunsthal Rotterdam (exhibition Cat Love).

curriculum vitae chronological


white collar

White Collar is a 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 I 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. White Collar has also been awarded in the IPA 2011 (International Photography Awards), the Hasselblad Masters Competition 2010, and became a winner twice in the Masters Cup 2013, category Fine Art. Cat with White Collar II and Cat with White Collar VII have been exhibited in Kunsthal Rotterdam (exhibition Cat Love until January 14, 2018).

About the ruff collar (information by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam):
‘This collar is made of particularly fine batiste. It was introduced to the Northern Netherlands by the Flemish refugees who arrived in the late sixteenth century. 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.’



Intriguing portraits of mysterious, autonomous and forceful young women.


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.

The Food Portraits have been exhibited in 2017 and 2018 in Museum Nairac and Museum Jan Cunen.

The series received the first place in the 7th Photography Masters Cup 2014 (Chickpeas) and were also awarded in the IPA 2013 (International Photography Awards).


flowers, birds & vases

A surrealistic look at birds and flowers, combined with authentic 17th century Delftware and modern vases.


collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Still lifes from the hidden treasures of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum’s art depots. Marie Cecile Thijs was permitted to have a close look in the depots for exclusive objects for these still lifes.



Surrealistic portraits of majestic cats, with a nod to human nature. These works have been exhibited at Kunsthal Rotterdam in the exhibition Cat Love in 2017.



Each portrait of a chef cook is a small scene out of life, showing dedication, craftsmanship and mastery. The cooks have been exhibited at Photofestival Naarden 2011 and have been shown on the New York Photofestival Photoville 2012. The cooks have been awarded in the IPA 2011 (International Photography Awards).



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. The Human Angels have been awarded in the IPA 2011 (International Photography Awards), the Master Cup 2010 & 2011, and the Hasselblad Master Competition 2010.