At that time lived in the Eternal City a patrician named John, and his wife, who professed great devotion to the Virgin Mary to whom he decided to bequeath all his possessions. To do this, on numerous occasions both spouses had prayed to the Virgin to send them some sign or indication of how they should formalize the delivery of his fortune. In this respect the legend says that one day, Aug. 5, the Virgin appeared to them in a dream at night to asking that they might build a church on the Esquiline; and that they would find the plans for the church drawn with snow on floor of the temple.
In the second painting, the Patrician John and his wife visit the Pope Liberius, to inform him of his deam and the revelation he received. The Pope organized a procession to the Esquiline where indeed he found the floor covered with snow, and miraculously, the church's plans drawn on it. More
Murillo was born to Gaspar Esteban and María Pérez Murillo. He was baptized in Seville in 1618, the youngest son in a family of fourteen. His father was a barber and surgeon. His parents died when Murillo was still very young, and the artist was largely brought up by his aunt and uncle.
Murillo began his art studies under Juan del Castillo in Seville. There he became familiar with Flemish painting and the "Treatise on Sacred Images" of Molanus (Ian van der Meulen or Molano). The great commercial importance of Seville at the time ensured that he was subject to influences from other regions. As his painting developed, his more important works evolved towards the polished style that suited the bourgeois and aristocratic tastes of the time, demonstrated especially in his Roman Catholic religious works.
Murillo’s painting, The Adoration of the Shepherds, c. 1660, depicts an episode in the Nativity of Christ, and shows the baby Jesus in the centre of the composition, surrounded by the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.
Mary presents her newborn to the three shepherds eagerly gathered around His crib. These figures, dressed in modest, earth-coloured robes, represent the cycle of life from youth to old age, personifying universality. Their gifts to the Christ child are doves, in a basket held by a servant, which symbolise purification; and a bound lamb, at the feet of one of the shepherds, symbolising Christ’s future sacrifice.
The presence of putti and the heavenly vision of a Cross at the very top of the painting also allude to the Crucifixion. The Christ Child’s upturned head indicates His recognition and contemplation of these symbols. What makes the painting particularly striking is the extent to which Murillo invests his scene with emotion and realism. Details such as the cushion and straw hat, which have been tossed aside, give the painting a sense of intimacy. The figures’ expressive faces and gestures, and the inclusion of details such as the shepherd’s dirty foot in the foreground all contribute to a convincing sense. This connecting sense of the everyday is further reinforced by the presence of the animals, such as the curious dog on the left-hand side of the painting, and the ox glaring out towards the viewer, thereby drawing the spectator’s gaze further into the picture. More
In this, his only known depiction of the Adoration of the Magi, Murillo treats the subject in an appealingly human way. Instead of concentrating on the splendor of the kings and their entourage, he instead emphasizes their reaction to the Christ Child, convincingly expressing their joy, solemn contemplation, and humble devotion as the Virgin Mary presents the child to them. Seen from the back, the kneeling king makes a particularly effective emotional impact and helps to draw the viewer into the scene.
Though the biblical account of the Magi following a star from the east in search of the Christ Child is brief, later Church tradition expanded the story, providing names and other details about the wise men. As they came to represent the kings of the world acknowledging the sovereignty of Christ, their depiction in art developed symbolic associations. Here Murillo follows the tradition of representing the Magi as the three ages of man (youth, maturity, and old age) and as the three pre-Columbian continents known to the West (Africa, Asia, and Europe).
The overall composition of the painting and the inclusion of the two young pages derive from three versions of the subject by Peter Paul Rubens that Murillo would have known from engravings. His synthesis of the great Flemish master's dramatic style is tempered by his own overriding sense of sweetness and simplicity and his gift for naturalistic detail. More
In 1642, at the age of 26, he moved to Madrid, where he most likely became familiar with the work of Velázquez, and would have seen the work of Venetian and Flemish masters in the royal collections; the rich colors and softly modeled forms of his subsequent work suggest these influences. In 1645 he returned to Seville and married Beatriz Cabrera y Villalobos, with whom he eventually had eleven children.
The Angels' Kitchen depicts a Franciscan friar, Francisco, in ecstasy and celestial cooks at work. In one of Murillo's first major commissions, executed for the Small Cloister of the Franciscan monastery in Seville, he combines angels and still life motifs in a graceful and realistic manner.
In the kitchen of a monastery, a Franciscan friar in ecstatic prayer, featured on the left, levitates in a nimbus. His Father Superior and two gentlemen, who have just entered, look on in amazement.
The two large graceful angels in the middle of the picture separate the friar's ecstasy from the next episode, depicted on the right.
Several angels and cherubs are going about the friar's work as he now looks on in amazement at the back of the kitchen. The celestial cooks are preparing food, grinding spices, scouring a saucepan, setting the table. In one canvas, Murillo achieves a natural blend of mystical figures and realistically painted still lifes: copper cauldrons, an earthenware pitcher, vegetables, a joint of meat.
According to the verse inscription at the bottom of the picture, the friar's name is Francisco, but his identity has not been established with certainty. It could be Francisco Perez, the cook at the Seville monastery who was venerated for his piety, or Francisco Diraquio, a Greek friar known for his ecstasies.
This painting was part of the first major commission awarded to Murillo, the Sevillian painter who dominated the latter half of the 17th century. In 1645, the Franciscans in Seville commissioned him to paint a cycle of thirteen pictures for the Small Cloister of their monastery.
In that year, he painted eleven canvases for the convent of St. Francisco el Grande in Seville. These works depicting the miracles of Franciscan saints vary between the Zurbaránesque tenebrism (dramatic illumination) of the Ecstasy of St Francis and a softly luminous style (as in Death of St Clare) that became typical of Murillo's mature work. According to the art historian Manuela B. Mena Marqués, "in ... the Levitation of St Giles (usually known as the "Angel’s Kitchen", Paris, Louvre) and the Death of St Clare (Dresden, Gemäldegal. Alte Meister), the characteristic elements of Murillo’s work are already evident: the elegance and beauty of the female figures and the angels, the realism of the still-life details and the fusion of reality with the spiritual world, which is extraordinarily well developed in some of the compositions."
Also completed c. 1645 was the first of Murillo's many paintings of children, The Young Beggar (Musée du Louvre), in which the influence of Velázquez is apparent. Following the completion of a pair of pictures for the Seville Cathedral, he began to specialize in the themes that brought him his greatest successes: the Virgin and Child and the Immaculate Conception.
After another period in Madrid, from 1658 to 1660, he returned to Seville. Here he was one of the founders of the Academia de Bellas Artes (Academy of Art), sharing its direction, in 1660, with the architect Francisco Herrera the Younger. This was his period of greatest activity, and he received numerous important commissions, among them the altarpieces for the Augustinian monastery, the paintings for Santa María la Blanca (completed in 1665), and others. He died in Seville in 1682 at the age of 64.
Murillo had many pupils and followers. The prolific imitation of his paintings ensured his reputation in Spain and fame throughout Europe, and prior to the 19th century his work was more widely known than that of any other Spanish artist. Artists influenced by his style included Gainsborough and Greuze.
The Museo del Prado in Madrid; Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia; and the Wallace Collection in London are among the museums holding works by Murillo. His painting Christ on the Cross is at the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego. Christ After the Flagellation is at the Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, Illinois. His work is also found at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. More
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Acknowledgement: Wikipedia, Musée du Louvre,