Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
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Bartolomé Esteban Murillo Biography(1617-82)
An artist whose many religious paintings emphasized the peaceful, joyous aspects of spiritual life, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was the first Spanish painter to achieve renown throughout Europe. In addition to the enormous popularity of his paintings in his native Seville, he was much admired in other countries, particularly England. Here his influence can be seen in the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds and John Constable, who painted during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was born in 1617 in Seville. His parents died when he was a child, and he went to live with a local artist, Juan del Castillo. As might be expected, early Murillo paintings show Castillo's influence. Under him learned to turn out religious pictures that were sold to small churches in Spain and in the Spanish colonies in America.
At some point in his life, probably in the
late 1640s, he is believed to have
visited Madrid. In any case, after 1650 his
use of color and light and his natural,
human portrayal of figures seems to show the
influence of Diego
Velazquez. In Madrid, Murillo
would also have seen paintings by the
Flemish and Venetian masters, and the painting
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo did in Seville
between 1650 and his death seems to show
these influences, too. Because Murillo did
not put a date on most of his paintings,
these changes in his style are often used to
determine the order in which he painted them.
Among the pictures painted when Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was a youth are several affectionate studies of the ragged boys and the flower girls of Seville. His later paintings are nearly all serene religious compositions, marked by splendid coloring, great technical skill, and pious intensity. One striking characteristic of these paintings is the illuminated mist, populated with angels and cherubs, that surrounds the central figures. The few portraits Bartolomé Esteban Murillo painted are extremely lifelike. In 1660 Murillo helped found a public academy of art in Seville and served as its first president.
In 1681 Murillo was in Cadiz, painting the
Espousal of St. Catherine on the walls of
the Capuchin monastery there. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo fell from
the scaffold, and his death on April 3,
1682, apparently resulted from his injuries.
Murillo was buried in the church of Santa
Cruz in Seville.
Among well-known Bartolomé Esteban Murillo paintings are three versions of the Immaculate Conception. St. Anthony of Padua was another of the subjects that he painted several times. Many people like best the series he painted for the Charity Hospital in Seville. Among these are Moses Striking the Rock, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Tending the Sick, and St. Peter Released from Prison.
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