Possibly the most famous of the baroque painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo are his immaculate and virgins, very typical of a historical moment in which Spainrepresented the highest representative of the Counter-Reformation and Catholicism. However, in the production of this Sevillian painter, the costumbrista paintings and some of his portraits are also very representative of his art. Some works in which, in contrast to the spiritual and sacred setting of his religious images, truthfulness prevails here. Something that also inspired his self-portrait made between 1670 and 1673. A work that today hangs in the National Gallery in London and which he made through the efforts of his own children, as as can be read in the cartouche that appears in the lower part of the canvas: "Bartolomé Murillo painted himself to please the wishes and requests of his children."
Self-portrait of Murillo
The painting is very much to the taste of the portraits of Flanders, and in fact in Sevilla where Murillo lived, there were many Flemish merchants and Dutch, and some of them were good friends with the painter. Like Nicolás de Omazur himself who worried that Murillo and his self-portrait would become popular, something he achieved by making a series of engravings of him inAntwerp
In it we see the portrait of the painter inside an oval frame with moldings. A frame supported on asmall table on which tools and elements typical of the painter's trade are discovered. Murillo is portraying himself in the same way that the knights do, but that does not detract from the fact that he includes the tools of his work. There are the palette and brushes, as well as the pencil, the compass and the ruler, something with which he also alludes to the fact that he works rigorously, with a method. That is to say that he is a cultured artist and that he dominates mathematics. While the pencil mentions his quality for drawing, something that he was passionate about and that led him to be one of the founders and first president of theAcademy of Seville.
he appears dressed in black, all sober, and with a lace collar that makes his face stand out. And as an element that gives life to the entire composition, he supports his hand outside the frame. Which also gives perspective and depth to the portrait.
Without a doubt we can see all of Murillo's mastery in this very personal work, especially in relation to color and light. As for color, he is capable of constructing any work with black, white and ocher tones, with the exception of a more vivid color in the palette that he has drawn under the frame.
And as for the light, it is striking that he abandons the magical and enchanting tones of his religious works, to here focus on a strong light, which obviously provides dark shadows and shadows with which he models the forms of your figure.