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NOTICE HIST. ET CRIT. SUR BART. ÉT. Murillo. d'hui, ne furent payés alors qu'environ 2000 francs, chacun. Murillo fit ensuite, pour l'église des Vénérables, hospice consacré aux ecclésiastiques âgés, un tableau de la Conception de la Vierge, et un saint Pierre; puis, dans le réfectoire, une Vierge avec l'Enfant Jésus, et le portrait en pied de son ami Justin de Neve, directeur de cet hôpital. Le tableau de la Conception est peut-être le témoignage le plus authentique de la bonne manière de Murillo, la délicatesse de son goût et de son intelligence dans l'opposition de la lumière et des ombres, ainsi que dans le merveilleux effet de la lumière. C'est encore vers le même temps qu'il peignit pour le couvent des capucins de Séville dix-neuf tableaux représentant la plupart des sujets tirés de l'histoire de leur ordre.
Les capucins de Cadix désirant aussi faire orner leur couvent, engagèrent Murillo à travailler pour eux, et il se rendit dans cette ville, où il exécuta son célèbre tableau des Fiançailles de sainte Catherine, pour le maître-autel de cette église; mais, dans une chute qu'il fit de dessus son échafaud, il se blessa si gravement qu'il ne put finir ce tableau, qui fut terminé par son élève Meneses Osorio. Murillo resta souffrant jusqu'à la fin de sa vie. S'étant fait transporter à Séville, il y mourut le 3 avril 1682.
Murillo se fit remarquer par la douceur de son caractère et par la pureté de ses mœurs; aussi eut-il un grand nombre d'élèves, parmi lesquels on distingue Antolinez, Villavicencio, Tobar et Meneses Osorio. C'est au peintre Murillo qu'on doit l'établissement d'une académie publique de dessein à Séville, dont il présida la première assemblée le 11 janvier 1660.
Les tableaux de Murillo passent le nombre de cent soixante; mais on n'en rencontre que rarement dans les grandes collections de l'Europe, la plupart étant restés en Espagne.
On attribue à ce peintre une gravure à l'eau-forte représentant saint François à mi-corps.
HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL
BARTHOLOMEW STEPHEN MURILLO.
The numerous painters whose works ornament Palaces, Churches, and Museums, do not prevent its being discerned, that in each school, a painter is found, of so superior a talent, that his name alone engrosses the attention almost wholly. This remark may be applied to Murillo, who, in the minds of many persons, is the first Spanish painter, and is thus placed at the head of that school, as Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Poussin are put at the head of the Roman, Venetian, Flemish, Dutch, and French Schools,
Bartholomew Stephen Murillo was born January 1, 1618, at Seville, and not at Pilas, in 1613, as several authors have advanced. His family was in easy circumstances, and his first master was Juan del Castillo, his uncle. This painter going to reside at Cadiz, Murillo, abandoned to himself, set about making some small pictures to sell at the fair of Seville. There still exist, in that town, three pictures of that time: one in the Queen's College, another in the convent of St Francis, and the third in the college of St Thomas. His style was then rather dry, nor was there in his colouring that softness in the tints which he subsequently acquired.
Pierre de Moya, one of Van Dyck's pupils, on his return from London, stopt a short time at Seville; Murillo, astonished
HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL NOTICE
at the colouring that artist had acquired from Van Dyck's lessons, used all his endeavours to imitate it; but, Moya returning to Grenada, his native country, the young painter scarcely had time to receive a few hints from him.
Murillo, when 24 years old, had a strong desire to go to Italy. In order to procure himself the means for the journey, he returned to his first occupation; he purchassed some canvass, squared it, and primed it himself, then painted on it pious compositions, flowers, and fancy subjects. He sold them altogether to a ship owner, who was going to America, and with the produce, he set off, without communicating his project to his family. When arrived at Madrid, Murillo sought out Velasquez, his fellow countryman, and imparted his intentions to him. Diego Velasquez offered to procure him the means of copying, in Madrid and in the Escurial, the fine paintings of Titian, of Paul Veronese, of Van Dyck, and of Ribera, of which there was in those places a rather extensive collection. The young painter gave himself up ardently to this study. After working three years, he threw aside the idea of visiting Italy, and, in 1645, returned to Seville. Murillo was then commissioned to paint for the little cloister of the convent of St Francis, eleven pictures relative to the history of that order. His talent, and particularly his style, as new as it was extraordinary, excited astonishment, and showed a great painter. He also gave a proof of the variety of his studies, since the manner of Ribera is found in the St Francis in Ecstasy; that of Van Dyck, in the Agony of St Clara; and that of Velasquez, in the picture of St James Feeding the Poor.
This first success put Murillo on the road to fortune; he took advantage of it to settle, and, in 1648, he married Beatrice de Cabrera. Far from being dazzled by the praises given to his talent, this painter endeavoured still to improve his manner. He left off his style, which was rather timid, for another which was bolder, full of freedom, and so soft that this third
OF BARTHOLOMEW STEPHEN MURILLO.
manner drew on him the title of prince of colourists. Murillo, in 1655, did the two figures of St Leander and of St Isidore, his brother, archbishops of Seville. They are both dressed in the pontifical habits, and are seen in the principal Sacristy of the Cathedral. In 1656, he painted for the altar of the Baptistery of that Church, the famous St Anthony of Padua: he is kneeling, his hands are extended out, the saint seems preparing to receive the Infant Jesus, coming down from heaven, surrounded with a glory of Angels, and shining with the most dazzling splendour. The Chapter of Seville paid this picture 2500 franks, about L. 100, which was a considerable sum for the period and the country.
In 1665, Murillo was commissioned, by the canon, don Justin de Neve, to paint, for the Church of Santa Maria Bianca, four pictures which placed him in the highest rank as an artist. Two of these pictures, that were brought to Paris, are remembered with admiration: Murillo has represented, in them, the vision of the Roman Patrician and of his wife, who founded, towards the year 360, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
Being commissioned in 1667, to direct the works of the Chapter Hall, Murillo retouched the Arabesques that Paul Cespedes had composed, and painted for the vaulted ceiling, a beautiful Conception, with four holy Archbishops in the compartments. He began, about the same time, his works in the Hospital of St George, called Charity, and ended them in 1674. These pictures, eight in number, are all masterpieces : that of St Elizabeth of Arragon tending the sick, has been in Paris.
The other pictures he painted for that hospital are Moses striking the Rock, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, also Abraham receiving the three Angels, etched in this Museum ; no 271; Jesus Christ at the Pool, no 262; the Prodigal Son's Return, no 3or; and St Peter delivered out of prison. These
IV HISTOR. AND CRIT. NOTICE OF B. S. MURILLO.
pictures, which are now considerd of inestimable worth, were. paid, at that time, only about 2000 franks, or L. 80, each.
Murillo afterwards painted the Conception of the Virgin, and a St Peter for the Church of the Venerables, an hospital allotted to aged ecclesiastics; also in the Refectory, a Virgin with the Infant Jesus; and a full length portrait of his friend, Justin de Neve, the Director of the Hospital. The picture of the Conception is perhaps the most positive proof of Murillo's excellent manner, of the delicacy of his taste, and of his perfect knowledge in the contrast of light and shade, as also of the wonderful effect of light. It was about this time that he painted for the convent of the Capuchins of Seville, nineteen pictures, the greater part representing subjects taken from the history of their order.
The Capuchins of Cadiz wishing also to ornament their convent, engaged Murillo to work for them, and he went to that city, where he began his celebrated picture of the Betrothing of St Catherine, for the grand Altar of that Church. But, he hurt himself so seriously in falling from his scaffolding, that he was unable to resume working at that picture, which was finished by his pupil Meneses Osorio. Murillo continued to suffer till the end of his life. Having been removed to Seville, he died there, April 3, 1682.
Murillo was remarkable for the mildness of his disposition, and for the purity of his morals, which drew him a great number of pupil, amongst whom are noticed Antolinez, Villavicencio, Tobar, and Meneses Osorio. It is to Murillo that Seville is indebted for a public Drawing Academy, at the first meeting of which he presided January 11, 1660.
There exist more than one hundred and sixty pictures by Murillo, but few of them are met with, in the great collections of Europe, the greater part having remained in Spain.
An etched print, of a half length St Francis, is attributed to this artist.