A Knight of Alcántara or Calatrava

Bartolomé Estebán Murillo Spanish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 625

This is thought to be Murillo’s earliest full-length portrait, and it captures the artist’s approach prior to his trip to Madrid in 1658, where he would see new forms of court portraiture. Rather than the softly blended technique of later works, here he uses the dramatic lighting and planar application of color associated with his older Sevillian contemporary, Francisco de Zurbarán. Earlier Spanish portraitists laboriously copied textiles, but Murillo would soon abandon this practice. By the 1650s, the interlaced pattern of the sleeves and gloves was also out of fashion, but their presence may attest to recycling, a common practice even among aristocrats for the most expensive elements of formal dress.

A Knight of Alcántara or Calatrava, Bartolomé Estebán Murillo (Spanish, Seville 1617–1682 Seville), Oil on canvas

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