The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Christ Child as the Good Shepherd

Object Details


The Christ Child as the Good Shepherd


Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Spanish, 1617 - 1682)




about 1675–1680


Pen and brown ink over black chalk

Object Number:



13.2 × 10.3 cm (5 3/16 × 4 1/16 in.)

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Object Description

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo barely suggested the Christ Child's head, which seems almost to emerge from a void determined by his hair and clothing, and jotted in only the barest of settings, a slightly scribbly ground. This bold drafting style, expressed in extremely loose, staccato penstrokes, gives energetic freedom to a standard religious subject. In contrast to the sentimentality and usually smooth brushwork of his paintings, Murillo's drawings display fluidity and spontaneity.

Known and admired for his idealized portrayals of children, Murillo often drew and painted scenes of the infancy of Christ, here identified by a shepherd's staff. This attribute also identifies the source of the subject, a passage in the Gospel of Saint John: "I am the good shepherd who gives his life for his sheep."

Murillo drew this sketch on the back of a letter; the verso bears extensive writing in brown ink.

Juanes to Goya: Spanish Drawings 1560 -1825 (September 14 to November 28, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 14 to November 28, 1999
Window onto Spain: Drawings and Prints from Ribera to Goya (February 17 to May 16, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 17 to May 16, 2004
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, (1617 - 1682): Dibujos (May 30 to March 27, 2012)
  • Fundacion Marcelino Botin (Santander), March 30 to May 27, 2012