The Vision of Saint Francis of Paola

Object Details

Title:

The Vision of Saint Francis of Paola

Artist/Maker:

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Spanish, 1617 - 1682)

Culture:

Spanish

Date:

about 1670

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Object Number:

2003.144

Dimensions:

188 × 146 cm (74 × 57 1/2 in.)

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This painting depicts the heavenly vision of Saint Francis of Paola (1416–1507), founder of the Order of Minims, a religious order committed to perpetual abstinence and acts of humility. The saint experiences a vision in which the word “Charitas” (meaning Charity) appears in an aureole of golden light, accompanied by cherubs. The word became the motto of the Minims, and appears on the order’s heraldic crest.

In the background, the saint appears again standing on a shore with two kneeling companions. This scene in the distance refers to a miracle in which Francis calmed a stormy sea and ferried the men across the Straits of Messina on his cloak after they had been refused passage on a ship.

The subject of the painting should not be considered simply in terms of its visionary and narrative elements, but as a representation of faith itself as embodied by Saint Francis of Paola. Elderly and bearded, he is humbly dressed and appears to bear the weight of his calling on his slender walking staff. He gazes at the message borne aloft by the heavenly host with a look of reverent awe and dutiful acceptance. The simplicity of setting, sober tonality, loose brushwork, and harmony of both material and divine presence, are all consistent with Murillo's late style and help to convey a scene of passionate spiritual appeal.

Provenance
before 1724

Possibly Juan Francisco Eminente (Seville, Spain)
Source: Palomino de Castro y Velasco. El museo pictorico, y escala optica. Vol. 2 (1724), p. 623.

in 1724

Possibly Don Francesco Artier (Madrid, Spain)
Source: Palomino de Castro y Velasco. El museo pictorico, y escala optica. Vol. 2 (1724), p. 623.

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, first 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, second earl of Ashburnham, 1724 - 1812 (Ashburnham Place, Sussex, England; London, England), by inheritance to his son, George Ashburnham, 1812.
Source: PI: John, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham inventory; in his 1793 Ashburnham Place inv. no. 95.

1812 - 1830

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

1830 - 1878

Bertram Ashburnham, fourth 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, fifth 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, first Bart., 1840 - 1929 [unsold, Robinson Sale, Christie's, London, July 6, 1923, lot 30], by inheritance to his daughter, Ida Louise (Robinson) Labia, 1929.

1929 - 1961

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

1961 - possibly 1989

Natale Luccio Labia, Count Labia, 1924 - 2016 (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 Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.

Exhibitions
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)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), July 2 to September 14, 1958
The Sir Joseph Robinson Collection: Lent by the Princess Labia (1959)
  • 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)
  • Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich), August 17 to September 16, 1962
Twenty Masterpieces from the Natale Labia Collection (April 26 to May 26, 1978)
  • 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)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 17, 2009 to December 11, 2011
Bibliography

Palomino de Castro y Velasco. El museo pictorico, y escala optica. 3 vols (Madrid: de Bedmar, 1795-97), vol. 2 (1797), p. 623.

Greenwood, London. A Catalogue of the Magnificent Collection of Pictures of the Late Sir Lawrence Dundas, Bart. May 29-31, 1974, p. 29, lot. 35.

Christie and Manson, London. Catalogue of the Entire and Valuable Collection of Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and French Pictures: The Property of the Earl of Ashburnham. July 20, 1850, p. 18, lot. 83.

Curtis, Charles Boyd. Velazquez and Murillo: A Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of the Works of Don Diego de Silva Velázquez and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [...] (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1883), pp. 208, 239, no. 301.

"The Robinson Pictures." Connoisseur 142, no. 572 (November 1958), p. 96, no. 9.

Scharf, Alfred. "The Robinson Collection." Burlington Magazine 100, no. 666 (September 1958), p. 304.

The Robinson Collection: Paintings from the Collection of the Late Sir J. B. Robinson, Bt., Lent by the Princess Labia, exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1958), pp. iii, vii, 13, no. 9.

The Robinson Collection: Paintings from the Collection of the Late Sir J. B. Robinson, Bt., Now in the Possession of the Princess Labia (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1958), p. 11, ill.

Paris, John, ed. The Sir Joseph Robinson Collection: Lent by the Princess Labia, exh. cat. (Cape Town: National Gallery of South Africa, 1959), pp. 5-6, no. 15.

Sammlung Sir Joseph Robinson (1840-1929): Werke europäischer Malerei vom 15. bis 19. Jahrhundert, exh. cat. (Zurich: Kunsthaus, 1962), p. 17, no. 11.

Sutton, Denys. "The Dundas Pictures." Apollo 86, no. 67 (September 1967), pp. 206, 210, 213, fig. 4.

Brown, Johathan. Murillo & His Drawings (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), pp. 36, 106, fig. 57.

Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio. L'opera completa di Murillo (Milan: Rizzoli, 1978), p. 104, no. 199, ill.

Cannon-Brookes, Peter, ed. Twenty Masterpieces from the Natale Labia Collection: A Loan Exhibition in Aid of The City of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Appeal Fund, exh. cat. (London: Wildenstein & Co., 1978), pp. 7, 23, no. 10, ill.

Angulo Iñiguez, Diego. Murillo. Vol. 1, Su vida, su arte, su obra (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1981), p. 436.

Angulo Iñiguez, Diego. Murillo. Vol.3, Láminas (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1981), fig. 408.

Angulo Iñiguez, Diego. Murillo. Vol. 2, Catálogo crítico (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1981), pp. 254-55, no. 310.

Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Antonio. Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors. Nina Ayala Mallory, trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 282.

"The Master of 1487 & a Marriage in Fifteenth-Century Florence: Paintings from the Collection of Sir Joseph Robinson, Bt. (1840 - 1924)." Sotheby's Preview (November/December 1989), pp. 33, 34, ill.

Sotheby's, London. Highly Important Old Master and British Paintings: From the Collection of Sir Joseph Robinson. December 6, 1989, unpaginated, lot. 107, ill.

Infante, Victoria. "Esplendor en restauración: Conservadores del Museo Getty trabajan en un recién adquirido óleo de Murillo, nueva joya de su colección de pinturas españolas." La Opinión (March 10, 2004), pp. ID, 6D, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. 104-5, ill.

Valdivieso, Enrique. Murillo: Catálogo razonado de pinturas (Madrid: Ediciones El Viso, 2010), pp. 91, 460-61, no. 286, ill.

O'Donnell, Jessica. "A Painting 'Without a History': New Light on a Hitherto 'Unidentified Miracle' in the National Gallery of Ireland." Burlington Magazine 158, no. 1358 (May 2016), pp. 336-44, fig. 7.

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