On the 400th anniversary of the painter Bartolomé Esteban y Murillo, which took place in Sevilla on the last day of 1617, Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla pays homage to one of the great artists of the Spanish baroque art and the most significant in the long history of Sevillian pictorial school. Most of the paintings exhibited in the Museo were made by Murillo for the Capuchins Convent in Sevilla, almost all of them belong to the Museo since the disendowment of the ecclesiastical properties carried out in 1835, while others are joined by loans by various Spanish and foreign institutions.
Murillo is a religious painter, namely mostly famous for “Immaculate Conception” he painted in 1652. His artwork is soft sometimes with rich colors. If you look closely at some of them you will notice the broad brushwork of his later paintings which were influenced by 16th Flemish painters.
Your attention must be drawn by the admirable harmony of the Mother. I specially admire how Murillo painted her hands, his brushstrokes are light, almost transparent, he knew how to use the different gradations of light.
“Piety” was painted in 1665/1666, for this composition Murillo had the influence of the Flemish paintings. You will notice the horizontal line in the middle of the painting. In fact, at an unknown time possibly during the 19th century, the painting was damaged with the upper arched being lost, therefore it was assembled with another of Murillo’s painting “Anunciacion” since the two works were companion pieces.
This work represents Saint Bonaventure on the left, an important Franciscan saint of the 13th century with the red mozzetta of a cardinal and on his right, Saint Leander, archbishop of Sevilla in the 6th century. Murillo illustrates in this painting, the gathering of the two religious communities which throughout the years occupied the Capuchin Convent.
Murillo painted “Virgin with Child” around 1668/1669. It is as if both characters were looking out of a window. This painting is also known as “Virgin of the Napkin” in Spanish “Virgen de la Servilleta”, let me tell you why. A legend was forged during the 19th century based on the close relationship the painter maintained for years with the monks. It is said that one night, after dinner, the monks urged Murillo to produce a painting before leaving. Facing such insistence, Murillo sketched the napkin as a canvas and masterfully drew the Virgin’s head.
Saint John the Baptist is represented in isolation as a hermit in the middle of a desert, his red mantle being a symbol of his glorious martyrdom.
You will notice the amazing details of the sheepskin. Just fascinating!
Saint Antonio de Padua represents the popular spirituality advocated by the early Franciscans. Murillo illustrated a deliberate simplicity in that scene.
This painting was made by Murillo around 1670 to decorate the Chapel of Saint George, the main theme being the “works of mercy”. In addition to “The Miracle of the loaves and fishes”, Murillo painted another scene “Moses drawing water from the rock”. The painter leads us through the multiple glances of authentic emotion.
I was glad to share my visits to the Museo with you. I do hope you admired Murillo’s artwork and through them you felt the same as I did: his fabulous work, their details appeal directly to the feelings of those who contemplate his paintings.