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Xavier Bray specializes in Spanish art and has been Chief Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery since January 2011. Former posts include Assistant Curator of seventeenthand eighteenth-century European paintings at the National Gallery, London, and Chief Curator at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao, where he curated numerous exhibitions including: Goya’s Family of the Infante Don Luis; A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches; An Intimate Vision: Women Impressionists; El Greco; Caravaggio: the Final Years; Velázquez and The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600–1700. He completed his PhD at Trinity College, Dublin.



The paintings of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), which depict women and children of the artist’s world, as well as elegantly handled religious subjects, constitute an extensive and appealing record of the everyday life of his times. Taking the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s excellent collection of masterpieces as a starting point, this book demonstrates Murillo’s far-reaching popularity and the influence he had on artists such as Thomas Gainsborough, whose ‘fancy pictures’ show a clear affinity with Murillo’s paintings of children. It sumptuously illustrates the main artworks, while reproductions of other Murillo paintings put the master’s enduring art into a historical and social context. The book also provides important new scholarship on attribution and technique, with x-ray images revealing fresh and unexpected insights into the genesis and evolution of Murillo’s compositions. One piece has never before been shown in print and several of the other key works have been newly conserved – bringing them back to life in their full splendour.



Front cover: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo The Flower Girl (detail) 1665–70, oil on canvas 120.7 x 98.3 cm Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, DPG199

Back cover: Joseph Dakin Interior of the Gallery 1894, watercolour on paper 60 x 45 cm Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, G13

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ISBN 978-1-78130-008-4

9 781781 300084

Philip Wilson Publishers an imprint of I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd 6 Salem Road London W2 4BU

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Murillo at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Xavier Bray

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Š Dulwich Picture Gallery 2013 Published by Philip Wilson Publishers an imprint of I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd 6 Salem Road London W2 4BU ISBN 978-1-78130-008-4 Distributed in the United States and Canada exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan 175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior permission of the publishers. Designed by Design Execution Printed and bound in Italy by Trento

Detail of Cat. 4 BartolomĂŠ Esteban Murillo Three Boys c.1670, oil on canvas 168.3 x 109.8 cm Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, DPG222

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Contents 4 Foreword 5 Acknowledgements 7 Introduction 21 The Beggar Boys 33 The Flower Girl 43 The Virgin of the Rosary 47 The Adoration of the Magi 51 The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin 55 Copies, Imitations and Works by Followers 62 Provenance 63 Bibliography 64 Image Credits

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Murillo at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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The Flower Girl

Detail of Cat. 5 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo The Flower Girl 1665–70, oil on canvas 120.7 x 98.3 cm Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, DPG199

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One of Murillo’s most famous works in the late eighteenth century, this painting was acquired by Desenfans at auction in 1795. Hailed in the sale catalogue for its ‘universal excellence’ and ‘resemblance of truth and nature’, it was admired for its simplicity, directness and sheer beauty. However, the identity of the lovely young woman whom it portrays is unknown. The painting was first documented in 1737 in France in the collection of the Comtesse de Verrue, where she was described as a Bohemian gypsy girl. Since then a wide range of suggestions have been made. In recent years, it has been suggested that she might be a personification of ‘Spring’, a subject that Murillo is known to have painted for his close friend and patron, Justino de Neve (Fig. 23). As canon of Seville cathedral, Neve was responsible for commissioning Murillo to decorate several churches and confraternities with some of his most important paintings. When an inventory of Neve’s collection was made after his death in 1685, it included, among numerous paintings by Murillo, two paintings in gilded frames entitled ‘primavera’ (Spring) and ‘berano’ (Summer). The inventory gave specific measurements for these paintings: ‘dos baras menos quartta (de largo)’, equivalent to 147 cm in height. Valued at 800 reales each, they were sold at Neve’s estate sale on 21 September 1685 to Juan Salvador Navarro, a Sevillian surgeon and possibly an agent dealing in art works, for a total price of 900 reales. Until recently, Neve’s paintings of Spring and Summer were considered lost. However, the public reappearance of Murillo’s Young Man Holding a Basket of Fruit and Vegetables, bought in 1999 from the estate of the 5th Earl of Normanton by the Scottish National Gallery, raised the question of whether he might be identified as ‘Summer’ because of the ears of barley in his turban and the basket of fruits and vegetables that he holds (Fig. 22). This then led to the suggestion that the Dulwich Flower Girl might be ‘Spring’, the roses on her person being interpreted as spring flowers. Today, the general consensus is that these two paintings do indeed represent Spring and Summer, but whether they are the paintings mentioned in Neve’s inventory remains unclear. Murillo’s friend and patron, the Flemish merchant Nicolás de Omazur (c.1630–1698), is known to have owned a set The Flower Girl of33

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Cat. 5 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo The Flower Girl 1665–70, oil on canvas 120.7 x 98.3 cm Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, DPG199

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Fig. 22 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo ‘Summer’ as a Young Man Holding a Basket of Fruit and Vegetables 1660–65, oil on canvas 101.9 x 81.6 cm Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, NG2706

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Fig. 23 BartolomĂŠ Esteban Murillo Portrait of Don Justino de Neve 1665, oil on canvas 206 x 129.5 cm The National Gallery, London, NG6448


Murillo at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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the ‘Four Seasons’ by Murillo. An inventory of his collection drawn up on 15 January 1690 and repeated on 8 July 1698 lists the ‘quatro tiempos del año’, all measuring 125 x 83 cm, and provides interesting details about their gilded frames, two of which were decorated with fruit and flower motifs. It may be that Omazur acquired Neve’s ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ to complement an ‘Autumn’ and a ‘Winter’ that he already had in his collection. This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that Juan Salvador Navarro, the Sevillian surgeon who bought the two paintings in 1685, also bought at the same sale Murillo’s paintings on obsidian of the Penitent Saint Peter and the Agony in the Garden, both of which were later owned by Omazur. However, both The Flower Girl and Summer are smaller in dimension than the paintings described in Neve’s and Omazur’s inventories. This may be because they were later cut down in size or because the measurements cited included their frames. Summer, which measures 101.9 x 81.6 cm, is approximately 5 cm shorter both in height and width than The Flower Girl (disregarding the strips of canvas added on all four sides of this painting at a later date, perhaps so that it could be fitted into a bigger frame). The existence of copies of the Dulwich and Edinburgh paintings in the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, made before the strips of canvas were added to The Flower Girl, suggests that the two pictures may have been together until the early eighteenth century. When seen side by side, the two paintings work well as pendants. Compositional elements such as the white turbans worn by both sitters, with the rose for Spring and ears of barley for Summer, provide a strong visual connection. Likewise, both show seasonal pickings: freshly cut roses, a sprig of orange blossom, and fruits and vegetables in a basket. Stylistically, however, the pictures do not appear to have been painted at the same time. Summer is painted in a slightly tighter style, with more compact brushwork reminiscent of Murillo’s style of the late 1650s. It also contains the tenebrist tonal effects that one finds in Murillo’s earlier compositions, suggesting that this painting dates to the early 1660s. The Flower Girl, by contrast, is painted in a looser and more instinctive manner, particularly in the drapery and the flesh tones. The lighting is also more diffuse, especially on the sitter’s face, presaging the ‘soft focus’ application of paint typical of Murillo’s works of the 1670s. This painting would seem to be datable to between 1665 and 1670. An X-radiograph of The Flower Girl reveals a startling image beneath the paint surface whose existence supports such a dating. When the painting is positioned on its side, head to the left and roses to the right, the bottom half of an Immaculate Conception is visible (Fig. 26). A crescent moon appears

The Flower Girl 37

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beneath her shawl, extending through her face and out above her left ear. The shape of the bottom half of the Virgin’s white mantle, with her right knee bent forward, is visible above the crescent moon. On the right, two angels holding the Virgin’s attributes, a palm and roses, look at each other as they float among the clouds. On the far left, just visible beneath the area of the girl’s right ear and the rose in her turban, another angel looks out, holding a bunch of lilies. Intriguingly, the same three angels appear in the bottom half of Murillo’s well known Immaculate Conception of El Escorial (Figs. 24 and 25). No contract for the Immaculate Conception of El Escorial survives, making it difficult to date accurately. However, it has all the stylistic characteristics of Murillo’s work in the mid-1660s. Yet more compelling evidence for such a date is provided by a drawing by Murillo for an Immaculate Conception (Greenlease Art Gallery, Rockland, Kansas University), which shows the same two angels holding Marian attributes that appear on the right in the Prado painting. The drawing has the date 1664 inscribed in the lower left hand corner. Although it shows the Virgin in a different pose to that in the Escorial version, Murillo was almost certainly exploring the poses and attitudes of these angels around this date. If this is so, The Flower Girl is likely to have been painted after 1664 on top of a canvas which Murillo recycled by cutting it in half. While the identification of Summer remains convincing, the identification of The Flower Girl as ‘Spring’ is less straightforward. Her roses are damask roses that flower in late spring/ early summer and again in the autumn. Likewise, orange blossom comes out in the spring but has a second flowering in the autumn. Looking directly out at us with a half smile, she seems to be in her early to mid-teens. Rosy cheeked with brown eyes and dark brown hair, she is in contemporary garb. Her dress was probably originally a deeper brick red (the red organic lakes applied by Murillo have become transparent with time), and above it she wears a white chemise under a yellow corset with slashed sleeves. Her shawl, which has been suggested to be of Mexican or Moorish origin, is close in design and colouring to the shawls woven in the highlands of Peru which were imported into Seville directly from Lima. Her identity has been the subject of discussion since the eighteenth century; she has been called a Bohemian gypsy girl, an Andalusian peasant girl selling flowers in the streets of Seville, a Moorish girl and even a courtesan. It is also plausible that Murillo asked a model to pose with flowers symbolic of Flora, the mythological goddess of flowers, in the same way as Rembrandt’s wife Saskia posed as Flora (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).


Murillo at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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Fig. 24 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial c.1665, oil on canvas 206 x 144 cm Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P-972

Another possibility is that the sitter was Murillo’s own daughter, Francisca María (1655–1710). Murillo seems to have been very close to his children as is warmly commemorated in the Latin inscription on the cartouche of his SelfPortrait (Fig. 3). When his wife died in 1663, she left him with three sons and a daughter: José, Francisca, Gabriel and Gaspar, aged respectively seventeen, nine, seven and three. If The Flower Girl was painted between 1665 and 1670, the girl who posed for him would be the right age for Francisca aged eleven to sixteen. Another girl with dark chestnut hair and a similar complexion appears as Saint Rose of Viterbo in Murillo’s painting of the thirteenth-century Franciscan saint offering roses to the Virgin and Child (Museo ThyssenBornemisza, Madrid, INV. Nr. 296). The connections become all the more intriguing when we learn that Francisca took her vows as a Dominican nun in 1671 (having begun her noviciate in 1669), receiving the name of Sister Francisca María de Santa Rosa after a Dominican nun from Lima, Peru, who was beatified in 1667 and canonised in 1671. As the first South American saint, Santa Rosa became extremely popular and Murillo was one of the first artists in Seville to paint images of her, two of them for the convent of La Madre de Dios, Seville, that Francisca had joined. Murillo himself also had links with the Dominican order. From 1644 until his death in 1682, he was an active member of the Confraternity of the Rosary of his parish church of La Magdalena (now demolished), which was linked to the Dominican monastery of San Pablo. Both his wife and his father were buried there. Given these connections, it is tempting to see Murillo’s Flower Girl as a portrait of his daughter in the guise of a flower girl whose roses are symbolic of the religious name that she has taken and the order which meant so much to Murillo and his family. Such a suggestion remains only a hypothesis but one final point that may support it is that Justino de Neve’s family was also linked with the Dominicans and with Santa Rosa. Neve’s sister and niece, Francisca Paula de Neve and Sebastiana de Neve y Chaves, were nuns in the same convent as Murillo’s daughter. Sebastiana was particularly celebrated in Seville because she was reputed to have been cured miraculously from apoplexy thanks to the intercession of Santa Rosa of Lima in 1668. If Dulwich’s Flower Girl was indeed in Neve’s collection, then the roses would have been of multiple significance both to the artist and to Neve as its first owner, both for its religious and family allusions and perhaps also as a representation of Spring, combined in a single painting.

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Fig. 25 BartolomĂŠ Esteban Murillo Detail of The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial c.1665, oil on canvas 206 x 144 cm Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P-972

40 Murillo at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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Fig. 26 X-radiograph of Cat. 5 The Flower Girl Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

The Flower Girl

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Murillo: At Dulwich Picture Gallery  

The paintings of Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1618-1682), which depict women and children of the artist's world, as well as elegantly-handled...

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