Murillo: Two Self-Portraits for the 400th Anniversary of the Artist’s Birth

The National Gallery celebrates the 400th Anniversary of the birth of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo with an homage to the genius painter of the Spanish Baroque. The museum in Trafalgar Square reunites, for the first time, two authentic self-portraits of the artist, who, during his career, painted himself no less than sixteen times. Along with these two rare masterpieces, the first portrait by Murillo with Juan Arias de Saavedra, from 1650, from the collection of the Duchess of Cardona - restored for the exhibition and displayed in public for the first time - as well as Diego Ortiz de Zúñiga, on loan from another private collection. The most illustrious brush of Seville, an icon of Spain’s Golden Century, celebrated for his religious paintings and his extraordinary depictions, steeped in realism, is revealed to visitors through a lesser-known aspect of his work. The first self-portrait, now part of the Frick Collection of New York, shows the painter at the age of thirty, his face illuminated by a light coming from the left which emphasises the white of his rigid collar. The other, from 1670, one of the first by the artist to make its way into the United Kingdom, shows a Murillo twenty years older, quite famous. Surrounding the face of the master are the tools of his trade. Below, an inscription, Bartolomé Murillo Portrayed by Himself to Satisfy the Desires and Prayers of His Children - the paternal side of the artist. However, what is truly extraordinary, innovative and captivating is how the work interacts with the spectator. The exhibition is also a precious opportunity to admire the work Two Women in the Window, on loan from the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., one of the artist’s best-known works.
Samantha De Martin - © 2018 for Bvlgari Hotel London