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Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Seville, 1617-1682) the greatest exponent of the Sevillian School of Baroque
Painter. Son of Gaspar Esteban, barber surgeon, and María Pérez Murillo, descendent of silversmiths and painters, he was born into a large, rich family: he was the youngest of fourteen siblings. En 1645, at 27 years old, he married Beatriz de Cabrera and a year later he made a series of eleven large scale paintings to decorate the small cloister of the Convent of San Francisco in Seville.
Murillo's fame grew in the last few years of the '40s and the beginning of the '50s in the 17th century with works such as The Flight to Egypt and The Holy Family with a Little Birdthat awoke the devotion of the believer by looking at images filled with humanity, feelings and family. All these paintings present a Tenebrism that the artist mainly used between 1635 and 1650.
As the years passed, Murillo obtained a a privileged place between the great artists in Seville of the six hundreds, especially in 1655, when he presented Seville Cathedral with his San Isidoro and San Leandro, for the the main Sacristy of the metropolitan church.
Murillo died in Seville on the 3rd of April 1682, after falling of a scaffolding where he was painting a large canvas over the altarpiece of the Church of the Capuchins of Cadiz. Many artists mourned his death. His fame spread throughout the world and he is considered to be one of the most important artists in the History of European art. Appreciation for his work is evident in the museums that display his art: the Prado in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London to name just a few. And, of course, in the Museum of Fine Arts in his hometown.
The young Murillo.
The young Bartolomé was probably born on one of the last days of 1617, as he was baptised in La Magdalena Church on the 1st of January 1618. This church no longer exists and is now the plaza de la Magdalena; his name was given to the nearby La Magdalena Church. The visit also gives an excellent overview of the evolution of the Seville pictorial school, of the precursors, contemporaries and heirs of the painter.
Convents, churches and museums
Although he worked for various convents in Seville, the Confiscation and urban transformations mean that we can't see some of the paintings in their original location; as is the case of the San Francisco Convent, built in the current Plaza Nueva. The Napoleonic invasion also resulted in other paintings leaving the country, so these works of art are now missing from his first "museums". We highly recommend a visit to this church, and it is very close to the Cathedral, another place that must be visited. There is still a monument to the Vision of San Antonio, in addition to that of San Isidoro and San Leandro in the main sacristy.
Murillo Gardens and Plaza de San Cruz
From here, through the Patio de Banderas and nearby el Alcázar, we can visit the house where the painter spent his last years and died in 1682 , on Calle Santa Teresa, nº 8, which was turned into a house-museum for a while, although it is no longer open as such. Nearby are the Murillo Gardens, with a statue of the artist, and further on is the Plaza de Santa Cruz where, until the French occupation, was a church with the same name in which he was buried. Walking down charming narrow streets we reach calle de Santa María La Blanca, and he painted two works of art for the church (old synagogue) which are preserved in the Prado Museum.
Walk 1: Seville Museum of Fine Arts-calle Bailén-calle Murillo-Plaza de la Magdalena-calle Méndez Ñúnez-Plaza Nueva.