Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682) was a Spanish painter of Baroque art, known for his expertise in religious painting and the originality of his work. He never left Spain during his life, painting mainly in Seville, his birthplace. After creating a series of compelling works, Murillo's style of art opened a new phase in the history of Spanish painting and had an impact on Europe as well.
At a time when the Baroque art was prevalent, Murillo took the lead in creating a new, fresh and intimate style of painting and became an outstanding representative of this unique style of painting. The religious paintings he created were, in fact, somewhat on the side of genre painting, idealizing reality with an intimate note. His painting technique was exquisite and competent, and his mastery of color and light was very sharp so that his pictures presented a soft and sweet lyricism, which also occupied a certain position in the religious theme paintings of that time. Not only religious paintings but also his genre paintings are very outstanding. Under his brush, each figure is particularly lively and powerful, with an intriguing look and a story. He was very fond of painting contemporary women and children, girls, street children, and beggars to form a wide and attractive scene of daily life, which also earned him the reputation of a "child painter." For example, in Boys Playing Dice, the standing child is innocent and contentedly nibbling on bread. The colors are soft and warm. The joy, anger, and sorrow of a child are depicted in a very realistic way, innocent and sacred.
Murillo was born in Seville in 1617, and during his lifetime, the city had a strong religious overtone, with churches increasing over time. His early life was spent under very unfortunate circumstances. His father, a doctor, died when he was ten years old, after which he always received help from his sister. His life was generally happy, without any major storms, and he had a relatively prosperous and comfortable life thanks to his talent. In 1633, he apprenticed in the studio of the Baroque painter Juan del Castillo in Seville, where he absorbed the painter's skills and left the studio in 1639 to settle in Cadiz, and he made a living there painting. Later Murillo was commissioned by the local convent of San Francisco to create a series of large canvases and became a popular and sought-after artist in Seville, where he also founded the Academy of Arts.
Later Life and Death
In 1656, Murillo began working for the Cathedral of Seville, and in 1658 he went to Madrid, where he met Rubens and Van Dyck, and other contemporaries. He also witnessed the royal collection there and was impressed by the exquisite craftsmanship they showed. Because of these experiences, his subsequent work became more free-spirited, seeking to integrate religious activities into the everyday atmosphere and emphasize the meaning of life. The period from 1660 to 1670 was the heyday of his work, during which he created a large number of religious paintings, landscapes, and portraits, such as Christ on the Cross. In 1682, Murillo began his last assignment, a group of paintings for the main altar of the church in Cádiz, but died shortly after falling from the scaffolding while working on the frescoes. He was honored as "the painter of the Virgin of Spain."