Murillo at the Meadows: A 400th Anniversary Celebration
The Meadows’ extraordinary holdings of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo will be featured in a year-long celebration of the artist’s 400th birthday.
December of 2017 witnesses the 400th birthday of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), luminary of Golden Age Seville. The Meadows Museum is in possession of five of this star painter’s works, more paintings by him than any other museum in the United States. This exhibition celebrates this painter by exhibiting the extraordinary holdings by Murillo at the Meadows together with paintings by his Sevillian contemporaries, thus resituating the artist within the artistic context with which he remains so intimately associated.
Seventeenth-century Seville was one of the most prominent artistic capitals of early modern Spain, one that nurtured artistic careers as diverse as those of painters Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664), and Juan de Valdés Leal (1622–1690), as well as those of polychrome sculptors like Luisa Roldán (1650–1704) and Juan Martínez Montañés (1568–1649). From among these greats, Murillo emerged as the city’s undisputed shining star. At the height of his career, Murillo enjoyed the most prestigious commissions that Seville had to offer, from religious institutions and private citizens alike.
His most successful works were his paintings of religious subjects executed with a gracefulness of expression and a softness of brushstroke that are now the most recognizable hallmarks of the painter’s artistic maturity. The paintings featured in this exhibition, including Murillo’s Immaculate Conception (1655–60), Saint Justa and Saint Rufina (both c. 1665), Christ on the Cross with the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John (c. 1670), and Jacob Laying the Peeled Rods before the Flocks of Laban (c. 1665), all exemplify these qualities. Viewers will be able to see these works installed together in a single gallery, surrounded by artworks by the Sevillian masters that Murillo counted among his closest colleagues and most fervent rivals.