Murillo and Justino de Neve. The Art of Friendship

<em>The Flower Girl</em>, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Oil on canvas, 120.7 x 98.3 cm

The Flower Girl, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Oil on canvas, 120.7 x 98.3 cm

    Murillo and Justino de Neve. The Art of Friendship brings together a group of seventeen late works by Murillo - loaned from London, Paris, Houston, Madrid and Seville, among other cities – that were created within the context of the artist’s friendship with Justino de Neve, canon of Seville cathedral and an important patron and friend of Murillo’s. Focusing on this period within the artist’s career, the exhibition constitutes an important contribution to research on Murillo, which in recent years has concentrated on an analysis of his relationship with his patrons, the evolution of his technique, collectors of his work and the compilation of his catalogued oeuvre. The exhibition will subsequently be shown at the Hospital de los Venerables in Seville between October 2012 and January 2013, after which it will travel to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (February to May next year).

    Friday 22 June 2012

    The exhibition, on display at the Museo del Prado from 26 June, comprises seventeen paintings, five of which have been specially restored for this event. They range from religious and devotional works to portraits, allegories and the only known miniature attributed to Murillo.

    Following the major exhibition on the artist held in London and Madrid in 1982, there have been further ones focusing on specific aspects of his output. None, however, has looked at the creative dynamic generated by the relationship between Murillo and Justino de Neve, which gave rise to an important group of paintings. The fruitful results of their friendship are now the subject of the present exhibition, organised by the Museo del Prado, the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, Seville, founded in 1670 on the initiative of Justino de Neve and now the headquarters of Fundación Focus-Abengoa, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, which houses an important group of works by the artist.

    The paintings in the present exhibition are an outstanding testimony to some of the most significant artistic projects undertaken in Seville during the period in question, introducing the visitor into the heart of its distinctive manifestation of the Baroque style and its fusion of art, spirituality and culture.

    In addition to the works originally painted for Justino de Neve’s private collection, others were commissioned by him for the church of Santa María la Blanca (the reconstruction of which he supervised), the city’s cathedral and the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, an institution for the care of elderly priests of which Neve was a founder.

    The present exhibition reveals how Justino de Neve was one of Murillo’s most important and original patrons. Among the works that he commissioned from him were the four large lunettes of The Founding of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, three now restored for this exhibition; The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables (also known as The “Soult” Immaculate Conception) from the Museo del Prado’s own collection, which will be exhibited in its original frame still in the church of the Venerables Sacerdotes, headquarters of Fundación Focus-Abengoa; the allegories of Spring (Girl with Flowers), also restored for the exhibition, and Summer (Young Man with a Basket of Fruit) loaned from the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland, respectively; and some exceptionally refined religious scenes painted on obsidian, loaned by the Museo del Louvre and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (Rienzi).

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