The Birth of St. John the Baptist

Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo (Spanish, 1617-1682)
c. 1655
Oil on canvas 
57-3/4 x 74-1/8 in. (146.7 x 188.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

Murillo, a native of Seville, was a generation younger than Zurbarán and Velazquez. Immensely popular throughout Spain and Europe, he was often called the "Spanish Raphael" for his sweet, idealized Madonnas and the softness and delicacy of his modelling. The characters in this painting are portrayed naturalistically yet retain the ideal, innate grace and elegance that are consistent with Murillo's figures from the late 1640s on. His modeling is solid yet handled with a painterly touch. Although this work displays a strong chiaroscuro, the general effect is one of luminosity: the darks are not so opaque, the lights are strong and the colors are saturated.


Henry Gally Knight (1786-1846), probably bought in Spain ca. 1800, bequeathed to his wife Henrietta Knight, to;
Sir Henry Fitzherbert, 3rd bt. (1783-1858), and by descent to;
Sir William Fitzherbert, 4th bt. (1808-1896);
Sir Richard Fitzherbert, 5th bt. (1846-1906);
Sir Hugo Meynell Fitzherbert, 6th bt. (1872-1934);
Sir William Fitzherbert, 7th bt. (1874-1963);
Sir John Richard Frederick FitzHerbert, 8th bt. (1913-1976), sold May, 1966 to;
[Wildenstein and Co., Inc., New York], to;
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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