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Annotated works

MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban

(Seville, 1617-1682)

Saint Peter in Tears

Oil on canvas

148 x 104 cm

c. 1650-1655

Baroque (17th Century)

N.° inv. DEP632

Deposited by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia after dation by BBVA in 2000

San Lesmes

Oil on canvas

243,5 x 179 cm

c. 1655

Baroque (17th Century)

N.° inv. 88/17

Acquired in 1988


MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban on Online collection

This pathetic image of St Peter repented of his denial of Christ, according to the Gospels, was attributed to Ribera on account of its naturalism and the tenebrist lighting that makes the figure stand out against a dark uniform background. Nonetheless, it has been unanimously recognised as the work of the Sevillian painter Murillo, dated relatively early in his production, around the years 1650-1655, when the influence of Ribera, although attenuated, has a strong impact on the former.

The disposition of the figure creates the effect of a slightly downward diagonal from right to left, and the ashlar on which the book and the keys are placed relate the work to other compositions such as Ribera's Saint Jerome in The Cleveland Museum of Art (USA), of roughly the same period. The face, expressing restrained pathos, conveys grief and hope very well, while the materials, with rounded pleats, are characteristic of the time the work was probably painted. Twenty years later Murillo tackled the same subject again in a canvas for the Hospital of the Venerables in Seville, today kept in the Townsend Collection in Newick (USA). This version was similarly inspired in Ribera but painted in the artist's more diaphanous style of 1678, year in which the work has been dated after Ponz and Ceán Bermúdez, who apparently had access to documentation on the subject.

Saint Lesmes is portrayed standing, wearing a Benedictine habit, his head turned towards the sky, his right hand on his chest as if to assert his faith and a breviary and a rosary in his left hand. At the entrance to a cave behind him there is an altar that contains the image of a bishop in the act of blessing. In the distant landscape we are able to make out a bridge to the left and two pilgrims.

St Lesmes was an 11th-century Cluniac monk who came to Spain by order of queen Constanza, the second wife of Alfonso VI of Castile, to replace the Mozarabic liturgy with the Roman liturgy. Having settled in Burgos he founded an abbey, a hospital and a refuge for the pilgrims arriving along the French Road on their way to Santiago de Compostela. He is buried in Burgos and is patron saint of the town. The fact that Murillo should have painted this image in a city that had no ties with St Lesmes means that it could have been a commission by a patron originally from Burgos who had settled in Seville.

This is a significant work among those produced in the mid-17th century, when Murillo was gradually moving away from tenebrism towards greater expressive freedom. While the composition is indebted to the standing figures of saints painted by Zurbarán, Murillo's sensitivity has little in common with the austerity of the Estremaduran artist and his pictures of saints, with their delicate and free-flowing technique, are the very expression of holiness.  [A.E.P.S.]

 

Selected bibliography (Saint Peter in Tears):

Catalogus van kostbare schilderijen uit de 15e, 16e en 17e EEUW alsmede enkele bijzondere perszische tapijten ... . Gravenhage : Marle & Bignell, 1943, p. 15, il. 17, n.º 72. (atribuida a José de Ribera).

Alfonso Emilio Pérez Sánchez ; Ana Sánchez-Lassa de los Santos. Las lágrimas de San Pedro en la Pintura española del Siglo de Oro. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2000, pp. 66-67, 70-81, n.º 12.

Pedro Francisco García Gutiérrez."Las lágrimas de San Pedro en el Barroco"en Galería Antiqvaria, nº 184. 2000, p. 26.
Bilbao a Genova : la cultura cambia le città. [Cat. exp.]. Milano : Skira, 2003, pp. 100-101, n.º 14.

Da Vermeer a Kandinsky : capolavori dai musei del mondo a Rimini. [Cat. exp.]. Treviso, Italia : Linea d'ombra, 2012, pp. 168-169.
Galder Reguera. "Centenario del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao"en Arketypo : revista de arte, arquitectura y diseño vasco, Bilbao, nº 13, Arketypo, 2009, pp. 138- 147.

El joven Murillo. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao; Sevilla : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa ; Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucia, 2009.

Enrique Valdivieso. Murillo : catálogo razonado de pinturas. Madrid : El Viso, 2010, pp. 185, 326, n.º 89.

Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), pp. 68-69, n.º 48a, ad vocem.


Selected bibliography (San Lesmes):


Atanazy RaczynskI. Les arts en Portugal : lettres adressées a la Société et scientifique de Berlin, et accompagnées de documents. Paris : Jules Renouard, 1846,  p. 497.

Diego Angulo Íñiguez. Murillo. Madrid : Espasa-Calpe, 1981, pp. 279-280, il. 107, n.º 354.

Tesoros de las colecciones particulares madrileñas : pintura desde el siglo XV a Goya. [Cat. exp.]. Madrid : Comunidad de Madrid, 1987, pp. 76-77, n.º 29. 

Juan José Luna. Tesoros del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : pintura, 1400-1939. [Cat. exp.]. Madrid : El Viso, 1989, pp. 65-67, n.º 17.

Enrique Valdivieso. Murillo : sombras de la tierra, luces del cielo. Madrid : Silex, 1991, pp. 66-67.

Capolavori dal Museo di Bellas Artes di Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Roma : Leonardo-De Luca, 1991, pp. 37-38, n.º 13.
El gusto Español : antiguos maestros. Madrid : Caylus, 1992, p. 7, 10.

Ana María Galilea Antón. Catalogación y estudio de los fondos de Pintura Española del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao del siglo XIII al XVIII (de 1270 a 1700).[Tesis inédita]. Zaragoza : Universidad de Zaragoza, 1993, vol. I. pp. 957-963, vol. II. p. 520, il. 412.

Ana María Galilea Antón. "La colección de Pintura Española anterior a 1700 en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao" en Urtekaria 1994: asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1994: estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 1995, pp. 7- 42.

Spanyol Mestermüvek a Bilbaói Szépmüvészeti Múzeumból. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa ; Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, 1996, pp. 89-91, n.º 14.

Alfonso Emilio Pérez Sánchez; Ana Sánchez-Lassa de los Santos. Las lágrimas de San Pedro en la Pintura española del Siglo de Oro. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2000, pp. 71-73, 75-76.

Splendours of The Spanish Baroque. Madrid : Caylus, 2012, pp. 102 y 104.

El joven Murillo. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao ; Sevilla : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa ; Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucia, 2009,  pp. 384-387, n.º 42.

Enrique Valdivieso. Murillo : catálogo razonado de pinturas. Madrid : El Viso, 2010, pp. 93-94, 316, n.º 74.

Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), pp. 68-69, n.º 48b, ad vocem.

 

Annotated works