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Bartolomé Esteban Murillo  

b. 1618 Seville, Spain, d. 1682 Seville, Spain

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The market for Bartolomé Estebán Murillo's pictures was so large and lucrative that the king refused to allow their export from the country. Murillo himself never left Spain. Living with his uncle after his parents died, the young Murillo made devotional pictures to sell at Seville fairs. Later, he was apprenticed to local painters. Like all Spanish painters of his time working outside the court, Murillo mainly devoted himself to religious subjects. He created his first serious, successful works--eleven paintings for a Seville convent--around 1645.

Murillo's early style was highly realistic, and his models were often local peasants. He probably spent some time in Madrid around 1648, where he copied works by artists including Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. His work became softer and more tender as a result of these studies. In Murillo's last years, the grace and lightness of his "vaporous" paintings gave them a Rococo quality decades before the Rococo style was firmly established.

In 1660 Murillo founded and served as president of the Seville Academy. His workshop was a major force in the art world, but he taught pupils with the same gentle spirit he breathed into his art. His influence dominated the Seville school for a century and a half. Even today, in Spain a good painting is called a Murillo.

1-5 of 5

John the Baptist / Murillo
John the Baptist

Spanish, about 1655

Saint Francis / Murillo
Saint Francis

Spanish, about 1670

Immaculate Concep. / Murillo
Immaculate Concep.

Spanish, 1675-1680

Christ Child / Murillo
Christ Child

Spanish, 1675-1680

Monk & a Cross / Murillo
Monk & a Cross

Spanish, about 1680