Murillo and Justino de Neve. The Art of Friendship

Gabriele Finaldi, Associate Director of Curatorship and Research at the Museo del Prado, Anabel Morillo, chief director of Fundación Focus-Abengoa and Xavier Bray, chief curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery

Gabriele Finaldi, Associate Director of Curatorship and Research at the Museo del Prado, Anabel Morillo, chief director of Fundación Focus-Abengoa and Xavier Bray, chief curator of the Dulwich Picture Gallery

    The Museo del Prado, Fundación Focus Abengoa and the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London presented the exhibition Murillo and Justino de Neve. The Art of Friendship in Seville today. It brings together a group of late works by Murillo that were commissioned by Justino de Neve, a canon of Seville cathedral, an important patron of art and a personal friend of Murillo’s. As such, the exhibition represents a significant contribution to research on the artist’s life and work. Organised by the three above-mentioned institutions and curated by Gabriele Finaldi, Associate Director of Curatorship and Research at the Museo del Prado, the exhibition opens at the Prado on 26 June, after which it will travel to the Hospital de los Venerables in Seville, home of Fundación Focus Abengoa, and will finally be seen in London next year.

    Wednesday 11 April 2012

    Since the major exhibition on Murillo held in London in 1982 there have been a number of smaller ones devoted to specific aspects of his work. They include the exhibition on his paintings acquired by Isabella Farnese and now in the Prado (Seville, 1996); Murillo’s paintings of children (Munich, Dulwich and Madrid, 2001); and his works in US collections (Fort Worth, 2002). In addition, an important exhibition on Murillo’s early output was recently seen in Seville and Bilbao (2009-2010). The present exhibition focuses on the creative nature of the relationship between Murillo and Justino de Neve, which resulted in a group of works of remarkable beauty and quality, all dating from the last two decades of the artist’s life. Comprising 20 paintings - large-scale commissions, portraits, allegories and devotional works – the exhibition will be shown at the Museo del Prado from 26 June to 30 September; from October 2012 to January 2013 at the Hospital de los Venerables, Seville, an institution founded in 1670 under the direction of Justino de Neve and now the headquarters of Fundación Focus-Abengoa; and at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London between February and May next year.

    The exhibition highlights Justino de Neve (1625-1685) as the patron of some of Murillo’s most outstanding and original works. Among them are the large-scale lunettes on The Founding of Santa Maria Maggiore, to be seen in the exhibition following their recent restoration and cleaning; The Immaculate Conception of the Venerables (also known as The “Soult” Immaculate Conception) from the Prado, which will be shown in its original frame that still forms part of one of the altars in the church of the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes; the allegories of Spring and Summer (Youth with a Basket of Fruit) from Dulwich Picture Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland, respectively; and three exquisite religious compositions painted on obsidian, loaned from the Musée du Louvre and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Rienzi House Museum).

    The exhibition is organised into various different sections. It opens with Murillo’s self-portrait, which is shown alongside the artist’s portrait of his friend and patron Justino de Neve (both National Gallery, London). The next section focuses on works painted for the church of Santa María la Blanca in Seville (Prado, Louvre and Faringdon Trust, Buscot Park, Oxfordshire), followed by works painted for Seville cathedral and the Hospital de los Venerables (the large-scale Baptism of Christ for the chapel of Saint Anthony and The Virgin and Child distributing Bread to the Priests, now in the Budapest Museum). The next section looks at works executed for Justino de Neve’s personal collection, including three small devotional works painted on Mexican obsidian, shown together for the first time since the seventeenth century, and a miniature on copper that has recently been attributed to Murillo. In total, five works have been restored by the Prado for this exhibition, three from its own collection, one from Seville cathedral and another from the Faringdon Trust.

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