Murillo, Bartolom Esthban
Murillo, Bartolom Esthban the Titian of Spanish art, was born January 1, 1618, at Pilas, a small hamlet about five leagues from Seville. Developing at an early age a wonderful proficiency in drawing, he was placed under the instruction of his maternal uncle, Juan del Castillo, a distinguished historical painter of Seville, who was the preceptor of some of the greatest artists of the Spanish school. In 1642, Murillo, having heard of the fame of Diego Velasquez of Madrid, which at this period had reached its zenith, was filled with a desire to study under that master, and consequently journeyed to Madrid, where he presented himself before Velasquez, who, perceiving his merit, not only took Murillo into his academy, but procured for him the privilege of copying the masterpieces of Rubens, Titian, and Vandyck in the royal collection. Here he passed three years in hard study; and in 1645 he returned to Seville, where his first work was painted in fresco for the convent of St. Francis. It was a picture consisting of sixteen compartments, in one of which is his celebrated production of St. Thomas de Villanueva distributing Alms to the Sick and the Poor. At the principal altar of the same convent is a large picture of the Jubilee of the Porciuncula, representing Christ bearing his cross, and the Virgil interceding for the supplicants, with a group of angels of most extraordinary beauty. These pictures created so much enthusiasm among his countrymen that his fame was at once established, and he immediately received a commission from the marquis of Villamansique to paint a series of five pictures from the life of David, the landscape backgrounds of which were to be executed by Ignacio Iriate, an eminent landscape-painter of Seville. There was a dispute between the two artists as to which part of the pictures should be first completed, Murillo holding very rightly that the backgrounds should be first painted; to this Iriate demurred, and the consequence was Murillo undertook to do the whole himself, which he did, changing the life of David to that of Jacob, and producing the famous pictures now in the possession of the marquis de Santiago at Madrid. In the same collection are two others of his finest works, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Joseph with the young Saviour. The cathedral of Seville contains several of his great pictures, among which are St. Antonio with the Holy Infant, a glory of angels and a remarkably fine architectural background, the Immaculate Conception, and portraits of several archbishops of Seville. From the St. Anthony picture the figure of the saint was cut in 1874, and brought for sale to this country; but, falling into the hands of a well-informed party, it was returned, and placed where it properly belongs. The Hospital of Charity contains three admired works, Moses striking the Rock; Christ feeding the five thousand, and one of St. John supporting a poor old man, aided by an angel, upon whom the saint looks with a beautiful expression of reverence and gratitude. The altar-piece of the Conception, in the church of San Felipe Neri at Cadiz, and a picture of St. Catharine at the Capuchins, are not only noteworthy for their beauty, but the latter is considered by many as his finest work, although Murillo himself always preferred his St. Thomas de Villanueva at Seville. In the chapel of the Nuns of the Angel at Granada is one of his most celebrated pictures, representing the Good Shepherd. Space does not admit of a full list of Murillo's works, but as a painter of religious subjects he ranks hardly second to Raphael. His pictures of the Virgin, saints, Magdalens, and of Christ, are all so characteristically beautiful and refined, so pure and chaste, that he can be said to have followed no given style, though the coloring of Titian is perceptible in his works. It is a curious fact that in all Murillo's pictures of the Virgin he has never displayed her feet, which in every instance are covered with almost faultless drapery, as if the charms of the holy Mother were too sacred to be made the subject of illustration. This can be said of no other religious painter, and evinces a proof of the purity with which Murillo looked upon his art. In 1660 Murillo founded an academy of art in Seville, and was appointed its president, in which office he continued until April 3, 1682, when he died; his death having been hastened by a fall from a scaffold while engaged in painting the St. Catharine at Cadiz. In the National Gallery of Great Britain are a Holy Family, and a St. John and the Lamb. Dulwich Gallery contains, among others, Christ with the Lamb; Mystery of the Immaculate Conception; Jacob and Rachel; Adoration of the leagi; Two Angels; and a small Immaculate Conception. The Louvre contains a considerable number; the Pinakothek of Munich has some, and in the United States there are supposed to be a few of his works also. See Enyl. Cyclop. s.v.; Scott, Murillo and the Spanish School of Paintinig (Lond. 1873, 1 volume, 4to); Stirling, Annals of the Artists of Spain; Mrs. Jameson, Legends of the Madonna (Lond. 1857, 1 volume, 8vo), pages 34, 36, 43, 46, 49, etc.; Jameson and Eastlake, History of Our Lord (Lond.
1864, 2 volumes, 8vo), 1:138, 153, 155, 167, 273, 285, 292, etc.; 2:93, 343, 380; Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, s.v.; Davies, Life of B.E. Murillo (1819); Biographies of Eminent Men .from the 13th Century, volume 2; Tytler (Miss), The Old Masters (Bost. 1874), page 230; Fraser's Magazine, April, 1846; Blackwood's Magazine, 1845, 2:420; 1849, 1:73, 184; 1853, 2:103; 1870, 2:133.