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The Virgin and Child
Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban
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Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban

Sevilla, 1617 - Sevilla, 1682

Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban See author's file

The Virgin and Child

1655 - 1660. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

In this painting, the Virgin is seated on a stone bench and is, herself, serving as a throne for the Christ Child, who rests on her right leg. The Virgin and Child are slightly larger than life-size and fill a major portion of the painting´s surface, creating a sense of monumentality. Murillo has placed both figures before a dark background, using the contrast of light and shadow to model their features subtly and effectively. The neutral background and the technique of modelling endow the figures with a marked corporeality, emphasising their physical presence. Murillo represented the subject of the Virgin and Child in around 30 works - they are two figures he felt particularly comfortable depicting throughout his career. On occasion he would present the Virgin standing, as in Virgin and Christ Child in Glory 1673 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), or, frequently, half-length, as in the famous Virgin and Child (also called Virgin of the napkin) 1665-66 (Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla). Most commonly, however, Murillo would depict them as they appear in this painting. Beginning with this general layout, presenting the Virgin frontally, seated and life-size, he would introduce variations. At times, he would represent her among the clouds, as in Virgin and Child 1660-80 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Often the inclusion of a rosary (as in Virgin of the Rosary 1650-55, P975) would allude to one of the most deeply rooted devotional practices in Spain. The present painting is distinguished from the majority of Murillo´s other depictions of this subject by two elements: the Virgin´s long hair is loose and falls below her shoulder; and the Christ Child is depicted seated, rather than standing as in the other versions cited above. The variation is subtle, but it affects the interpretation of the work - on the one hand, it creates a feeling of stasis; on the other, it is a more intimate image. Placing the Child in a standing position signifies an alteration of the natural order of things and emphasises the art work´s role as a presentation of Jesus, who typically becomes the central element of the composition. Other versions demonstrate Murillo´s mastery of balancing this formal presentation with intimate affect; the present depiction, however, places greater emphasis on the relationship between mother and child. The profusion of images of the Virgin and Child, particularly popular in Seville, provides eloquent testimony of the comfort and refuge that images of this most intimate and tender subject offered in the face of society´s unfavourable economic and social conditions. Barely 25 or 30 years before Murillo painted this particular image, the city had been devastated by a terrible epidemic of the plague that reduced the population by nearly half. This painting entered the Royal Collections during the reign of Charles IV, a period in which esteem for Murillo´s art grew in Spain. His popularity continued through the nineteenth century, as evinced by the use of his paintings as a source of technical and narrative inspiration by various artists, especially those from Seville. One who most reflects Murillo´s influence is Antonio María Esquivel, whose own Virgin and Child 1856 (P6218) demonstrates both his familiarity with the paintings of Murillo, as well as the desire to make such a connection explicit (Text drawn from Portús, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 250).


Technical data

Related artworks

Museo del Prado, sala de la reina Isabel II
Gelatin / Collodion on photographic paper, Ca. 1899
Laurent y Minier, Juan
Museo del Prado, vista de la sala de Murillo
Gelatin / Collodion on photographic paper, 1900 - 1907
Lacoste y Borde, José
Inventory number
Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban
The Virgin and Child
1655 - 1660
Height: 151 cm; Width: 103 cm
Royal Collection (Adquirido por Carlos IV para la Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, 1788; Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, pieza de damas, 1818, nº 209 y 278).

Bibliography +

Curtis, Charles Boyd, Velázquez and Murillo: a descriptive and historical catalogu, J. W. BoutonSampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivig, New York, 1883.

Mayer, August L., Murillo. L'Oeuvre du Maitre, Hachette, París, 1913.

Muñoz, Antonio, Murillo, Instituto Geografico de Agostini, Novara, 1942.

Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier, Treasures of Spanish Art / Tesoros del Arte Español, Ministerio de Información y Turismo, Madrid, 1968.

Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio, La obra pictórica completa de Murillo, Noguer, Barcelona, 1978, pp. nº78.

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Murillo, II, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1981, pp. 158, nº 160.

Pita Andrade, José Manuel, Ob el Grieka Ob Goje, Narodni Muzei, Belgrado, 1981, pp. 82.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 450.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Historia de la pintura sevillana: siglos XIII al XX, Guadalquivir, Sevilla, 1986, pp. 208-209.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Murillo Sombras de la Tierra, Luces del Cielo, Silex, Madrid, 1991, pp. 72.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., De pintura y pintores: la configuración de los modelos visuales en la pintura española, Alianza, Madrid, 1993, pp. lám. 240.

Pintores del Reinado de Carlos II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº35.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura barroca española: guía, Museo Nacional del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 178.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Barroca Sevillana, Guadalquivir Ediciones, Sevilla, 2003, pp. 330.

López Fanjul, M. Pérez Preciado, J. J., Los números y marcas de colección en los cuadros del Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIII, 2005, pp. 84-110.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Murillo. Catálogo razonado de pinturas, El Viso, 2010, pp. nº99 p.332.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 250,252, nº93.

Hereza, P, 'Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. La Virgen con el Niño'. En:, Murillo y su estela en Sevilla, ICAS, Instituto de la Cultura y las Artes de Sevilla, Sevilla, 2017, pp. 280-281 n.56.

Prado 12 Raksturi = 12 Characters from Prado Museum, Latvian National Museum of Art, 2017, pp. n.8.

Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Aranjuez, 1814-1818. Núm. 209 / 278.
Pieza de Damas [...] {20864} 209 - 278 / Siete quartas alto cinco ancho, la Virgen con el Niño = Murillo

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 271.
Murillo. / 271. La Virgen sentada con el niño Jesús en su regazo. / Alto 5 pies, 5 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 8 pulg, 3 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 271.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 862.
862.-La Vírgen con el niño Jesus en su regazo. / Alto 1,51. Ancho 1,03.-Lienzo. / Le tiene abrazado y sentado en su muslo derecho, so- / bre un paño blanco revuelto á su brazo. Túnica color de / granate y manto azul verdoso, caido por su espalda y / cubriendo sus rodillas.-Figuras de cuerpo entero y ta- / maño natural. Cuadro del estilo del autor llamado cá- / lido.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Murillo y su Estela en Sevilla
05.12.2017 - 08.04.2018

12 Characters from Prado Museum
24.03.2017 - 16.07.2017

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
11.04.1997 - 11.05.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
28.02.1997 - 06.04.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
24.01.1997 - 23.02.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
20.12.1996 - 19.01.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
15.11.1996 - 15.12.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
11.10.1996 - 10.11.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
06.09.1996 - 06.10.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
17.05.1996 - 16.06.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
12.04.1996 - 12.05.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
29.02.1996 - 31.03.1996

Update date: 11-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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