Agony in the Garden of Olives, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Oil on obsidian, 35.7 x 26.3 cm, 1665 - 1670, Paris, Musée du Louvre, Départment des Peintures

The inventory of Justino de Neve’s collection drawn up on 28 June 1685, immediately after his death, lists some 160 pictures, which for a non-aristocratic collection was a considerable number. Taken together with his library of books on religion, history and poetry, it stands as evidence of his wide-ranging cultural interests. He owned an important group of paintings by Murillo – eighteen are specifically described as his – as well as a portrait of the artist (not described as by his hand), demonstrating his loyalty and personal commitment to the artist. These included the Immaculate Conception (Prado) which was almost immediately acquired for the Hospital of the Venerables Sacerdotes, and the Portrait of Don Justino de Neve, but also small devotional works on obsidian, flower paintings and allegories of the seasons.

The collection was dispersed in an estate sale at which Murillo’s son, Gaspar, bought several works. Some paintings found their way into the collection of the Flemish merchant, Nicolás Omazur (c. 1630–1698), who ended up owning an even larger group of Murillo’s works than Justino. The canon had paintings on wooden panels, on stone and on copper, and a quartet of miniatures, identified later in Omazur’s collection as by Murillo, one of which, the Dream of Saint Joseph, may be identical with the work exhibited here

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