The Vision of Saint Francis of Paola

Object Details


The Vision of Saint Francis of Paola


Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Spanish, 1617 - 1682)




about 1670


Oil on canvas


188 x 146 cm (74 x 57 1/2 in.)

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Saint Francis of Paola is portrayed kneeling in the midst of a desolate landscape, dressed in drab clothing and leaning on a walking stick. The bearded old man expresses devotion to God through a heavenward gaze and a pious gesture. The painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, contrasted the saint's humble presence with a brilliant, spiritual vision and a miracle he performed during his lifetime.

Murillo combined a realistic approach with an expressive manipulation of paint to underscore this unity of the earthly and the spiritual. The painting is mostly rendered in subdued, earthy tones. But a soft, intense glow infuses the word Charitas (Charity), bathing five hovering putti and the saint in a wash of golden light. Saint Francis of Paola founded the austere but charitable monastic order of the Minims, whose motto was "charity." Surrounding the saint, light barely illuminates the dark, rocky terrain. But a bright area in the distance draws attention to a narrative scene: The saint stands on the shore of the Straits of Messina with two companions. After a ship refused them passage, Saint Francis performed a miracle by calming the stormy waters and ferrying the men across on his cloak.

before 1724

Possibly Juan Francisco Eminente (Seville, Spain)

in 1724

Possibly Don Francesco Artier (Madrid, Spain)

about 1760

John Blackwood, 1698 - 1777 (London, England)

before 1781

Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1712 - 1781 (Moore Park, Hertfordshire, England; London, England), by inheritance to his son, Thomas Dundas, 1781.

1781 - 1794

Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas, 1741 - 1820 (Moore Park, Hertfordshire, England; London, England) [sold, Greenwood, London, May 31, 1794, lot 35, to John Ashburnham.]

1794 - 1812

John Ashburnham, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham, 1724 - 1812 (Ashburnham Place, Sussex, England; London, England), by inheritance to his son, George Ashburnham, 1812.

1812 - 1830

George Ashburnham, 3rd Earl of Ashburnham, 1761 - 1830 (Ashburnham Place, Sussex, England; London, England), by inheritance to his son, Bertram Ashburnham, 1830.

1830 - 1878

Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham, 1797 - 1878 (Ashburnham Place, Sussex, England; London, England) [unsold, Christie's, London, July 20, 1850, lot 83], by inheritance to his son, Bertram Ashburnham, 1878.

1878 - about 1895

Bertram Ashburnham, 5th Earl of Ashburnham, 1840 - 1913 (Ashburnham Place, Sussex, England; London, England), sold to Joseph Benjamin Robinson, about 1895.

about 1895 - 1929

Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson, 1st Bart., 1840 - 1929 [unsold, Robinson Sale, Christie's, London, July 6, 1923, lot 30], by inheritance to his daughter, Ida Louise Labia, 1929.

1929 - 1961

Ida Louise, Princess Labia, 1879 - 1961 (Cape Town, South Africa; London, England), by inheritance to her son, Count Natale Labia, 1961.

1961 - possibly 1989

Natale, Count Labia (Cape Town, South Africa) [sold, Robinson sale, Sotheby's, London, December 6, 1989, lot 107, to a private collector.]

1989 - 2003

Private Collection (Tokyo, Japan), sold through Agnew Inc. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.

The Robinson Collection. Paintings from the Collection of the Late Sir J. B. Robinson, Bt., Lent by the Princess Labia (July 2 to September 14, 1958) (Cat. 9)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), July 2 to September 14, 1958
The Sir Joseph Robinson Collection. Lent by the Princess Labia (1959) (Cat. 15)
  • National Gallery of South Africa, (Cape Town), 1959
Sammlung Sir Joseph Robinson, 1840 - 1929. Werke europäischer Malerei vom 15. bis 19. Jahrhundert (August 17 to September 16, 1962) (Cat. 11)
  • Kunsthaus Zürich, (Zurich), August 17 to September 16, 1962
Twenty Masterpieces from the Natale Labia Collection (April 26 to May 26, 1978) (Cat. 10)
  • Wildenstein & Co. (London), April 26 to May 26, 1978
La Roldana's Saint Ginés: The Making of a Polychrome Sculpture (February 17, 2009 to December 11, 2011) (No cat. no.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 17, 2009 to December 11, 2011
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