Murillo’s many depictions of the Virgin and Child were enormously successful: he endowed a conventional Catholic subject with newfound intimacy through soft modeling and naturalistic details such as this infant’s momentary diversion of attention from nursing, as if in response to the viewer’s presence. Like Zurbarán and Velázquez, Murillo was trained in Seville, where he spent his whole career. A copy of this painting was known to Cristóbal de Villalpando (ca. 1649–1714), a painter working in Mexico City, who inserted these exact figures into works for the cathedrals of Mexico City and Guadalajara.
The Artist: Bartolomé Estebán Murillo spent practically his entire career in Seville as the younger contemporary of that city’s other great painters, Velázquez (1599–1660) and Zurbarán (1598–1664). Trained in the studio of Juan del Castillo (ca. 1590–ca. 1657), he became an independent painter around 1644–45, years in which he married and received his most prestigious early commission, a now-lost series of eleven canvases for the convent of San Francisco el Grande. Murillo’s early, tenebrist style engaged Spanish interpretations of the Italian artist Caravaggio, including his strong contrast between lights and darks executed in an earthy, somber palette. Murillo’s only documented trip to Madrid, taken in 1658, is generally considered a watershed in his career: exposed to masterworks by Titian, Van Dyck, Rubens, and contemporary court portraits by Velázquez, he forged the style for which he is best known today. Abandoning broad brushstrokes and dark tones, Murillo developed his distinctive, softly blended paint handling, the luminous effect of which perfectly suited his treatment of religious and genre subjects, notably the Madonna and Child and images of children from the street. In 1660, Murillo became a founding member of the Academia de Bellas Artes in Seville, where he remained until the end of his life, despite an invitation from King Charles II to paint in Madrid. Murillo’s fame has rarely waned since his lifetime, and he enjoyed particular popularity among nineteenth-century English collectors.
The Painting: This late work by Murillo combines the traditions of Spanish art—notably its remarkable simplicity and neutral background—with foreign influences that the Sevillian artist had absorbed in the courtly collections of Madrid, particularly works by the Venetian painter Titian (ca. 1485/90?–1576) and Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641). Titian’s naturalistic, atmospheric Madonna and Child in an Evening Landscape (ca. 1560; Alte Pinakothek, Munich; see fig. 1 above), recorded as part of King Philip II’s collection in the Escorial Palace in 1606, may have had a particular impact on Murillo’s treatment of the subject in The Met’s painting. In addition to Murillo’s intelligent synthesis of approaches to one of the most frequently depicted images in the Western tradition, the artist contributes his signature subtly modelled shadows (sfumato) that lend softness to the flesh and a warm luminosity that acts as a natural halo around the mother and child. Through a clever conceit of the child turning to the viewer as if momentarily distracted from nursing, Murillo finds a means of humanizing his religious subject with disarming ease.
In a spirited preparatory drawing now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Murillo established the figures’ monumental form and juxtaposition of bodies, including the comfortable fall of the child’s legs over his mother’s thigh; however, the artist had not yet established the turn of the child’s face to look out of the picture (fig. 2). The effect is very different. In the drawing, the two faces, captivated one by the other, are beautifully conceived but essentially closed to us; in the final composition, Murillo’s decision to turn the child’s head breaks the separation between artwork and viewer, the divine and the everyday.
Prints after this painting are not known until the nineteenth century, but its compelling composition seems to have been known in Central America at an early date: the artist Cristóbal de Villalpando (ca. 1649–1714), who spent his entire life in Mexico City, derived from it his allegorical figure of Charity in his paintings of The Church Militant and Triumphant for the cathedrals of both Mexico City and Guadalajara (completed by 1686; fig. 3). Sofía Sanabrais has suggested that Cristóbal may have seen a copy of The Virgin and Child made by Murillo’s follower in Spain, Juan Simón Gutiérrez (1634–1718), who is recorded as having exported devotional paintings to present-day Mexico in 1673.
The Met’s painting has become known as the “Santiago Virgin” due to its ownership history: it is first recorded by Antonio Palomino in Madrid in 1715 in the collection of Francisco Estéban Rodríguez de los Ríos, 1st Marqués de Santiago (1706–1727) and may even have been commissioned by the family. In the 1728 inventory of the Santiago collection, it is mentioned as “Our Lady of the Milk with the Child.” The Marqués de Santiago owned several paintings by Murillo, and the Virgin and Child remained in the family until 1808, when it was sold to the Englishman George Augustus Wallis, who was acting on behalf of the dealer William Buchanan. According to Buchanan in 1824 the painting was displayed on the main altar of the chapel in the Santiago palace. Buchanan sold the painting in 1809 to Thomas Noel, 2nd Baron Berwick, for Attingham Park, and the canvas then passed through various English and Scottish aristocratic collections, before being sold to The Met by the Earl of Crawford and Belcarres in 1943.
Xavier F. Salomon 2011; updated by David Pullins 2020
 See Mayer 1938.  Sanabrais 2005, p. 327. For an etching dated 1858 see 1990.1175.1.  Palomino 1987 , pp. 282, 285 n. 7.  Glendinning 1986, p. 149.
Francisco Estéban Rodríguez de los Ríos, 1st Marqués de Santiago, Madrid (by at least 1715–d. 1727; inv., 1728); Marquéses de Santiago (1728–1808; sold to George Augustus Wallis for Buchanan); [William Buchanan, London, 1808–09; sold for £2,500 to Berwick]; Thomas Noel, 2nd Baron Berwick, Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, Salop, (1809–25; sale, Philips, London, June 7, 1825, no. 157, for £1,890 to Tennant); [Tennant, from 1825]; [Sir John Murray, in 1826; sold for £525 to Yates]; [Yates, from 1826]; [William Buchanan, London, by 1832; sold to Loyd]; Samuel Jones Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone, London (1832–83); his daughter, Harriet Sarah Loyd-Lindsay, Lady Wantage, Carleton Gardens, London (1883–d. 1920); her grand-nephew, David Alexander Edward Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford, 10th Earl of Balcarres, Fife, Scotland (1920–d. 1940); his son, David Alexander Robert Lindsay, 28th Earl of Crawford, 11th Earl of Balcarres, Fife (1940–43; sold to The Met through R. Langton Douglas)
London. British Institution. June 1844, no. 48 (lent by Samuel Jones Loyd).
London. British Institution. 1851, no. 97 (lent by Lord Overstone).
Manchester. Art Treasures Palace. "Art Treasures of the United Kingdom," May 5–October 17, 1857, no. 642 (lent by Lord Overstone).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1871, no. 193 (lent by Lord Overstone).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," 1888, no. 131 (lent by Lord Wantage).
London. New Gallery. "Exhibition of Spanish Art," 1895–96, no. 72 (lent by Lord Wantage).
Art Gallery of the Corporation of London. "Spanish Painters," April 30–August 28, 1901, no. 80 (lent by Lord Wantage).
London. Grafton Galleries. "Exhibition of Spanish Old Masters," October 1913–January 1914, no. 76 (lent by Lady Wantage).
Louisville. J. B. Speed Art Museum. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," December 1, 1948–January 23, 1949, no catalogue.
Madison. Memorial Union Gallery, University of Wisconsin. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," February 15–March 30, 1949, unnumbered cat.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. "Old Masters from the Metropolitan," April 24–June 30, 1949, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 57).
Fort Worth, Tex. Kimbell Art Museum. "Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682): Paintings from American Collections," March 10–June 16, 2002, no. 23.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682): Paintings from American Collections," July 14–October 6, 2002, no. 23.
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 12–October 17, 2021, unnumbered cat.
Osaka. Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," November 13, 2021–January 16, 2022.
Tokyo. National Art Center. "European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," February 9–May 30, 2022.
Antonio Palomino de Castro y Velasco. El museo pictórico y escala óptica. Vol. 3, El parnaso español pintoresco laureado. Madrid, 1715, p. 421 [see Temple 1905, p. 107, no. 153], lists the painting with the works of Murillo, in the collection of the Marques de Santiago, Madrid.
Richard Cumberland. Anecdotes of Eminent Painters in Spain during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. London, 1782, vol. 2, pp. 125–26, as a Madonna and Child by Murillo in the collection of the Marquis of Santiago; notes that "the Madonna appears to be a portrait and not a beautiful subject" and finds that "in this piece the art is much superior to the design"; claims to own an engraving after the picture.
Antonio Palomino. El museo pictórico y escala óptica. Vol. 3, El parnaso español pintoresco laureado. 2nd ed. Madrid, 1796, p. 623, as in the collection of the Marques de Santiago.
W[illiam]. Buchanan. Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution. London, 1824, vol. 2, pp. 219–21, 228–29, 234, as purchased from the St. Jago [Santiago] collection, Madrid, for Buchanan by his agent, [George Augustus] Wallis, and sold by Buchanan to Lord Berwick for £2500 in 1809; notes that it was displayed on the principal altar in the chapel of the Santiago palace.
William Stirling[-Maxwell]. Annals of the Artists of Spain. London, 1848, vol. 3, p. 1422.
W. Burger [Théophile Thoré]. Trésors d'art exposés à Manchester en 1857. Paris, 1857, pp. 127–28 [reprinted as "Trésors d'art en Angleterre," Brussels, 1860, with same pagination].
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain. London, 1857, pp. 141–42, cites the painting in Lord Overstone's collection.
Handbook to the Gallery of British Paintings in the Art Treasures Exhibition: No. 1. London, 1857, pp. 57–58, no. 642, cites it in the collection of Lord Overstone.
Francisco M.Tubino. Murillo, su época, su vida, sus cuadros. Seville, 1864, pp. 196–97.
William B. Scott. Murillo and the Spanish School of Painting. London, 1873, p. 103.
Ellen E. Minor. Murillo. London, 1882, p. 82, no. 642.
Charles B. Curtis. Velazquez and Murillo. London, 1883, pp. 154–55, no. 95.
Luis Alfonso. Murillo: El hombre, el artista, las obras. Barcelona, 1886, p. 191.
George Redford. Art Sales. London, 1888, vol. 2, p. 2002.
Carl Justi. "Murillo." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 2 (1891), p. 273.
Paul Lefort. Murillo et ses élèves. Paris, 1892, p. 75, no. 93.
Aureliano de Beruete. "Correspondance d'Angleterre: Exposition d'oeuvres de peintres espagnols au Guildhall de Londres." Gazette des beaux-arts 26 (1901), p. 258, as in the Wantage collection.
A[lfred]. G[eorge]. Temple et al. A Catalogue of Pictures Forming the Collection of Lord and Lady Wantage. London, 1905, pp. 107–8, no. 153.
August L. Mayer. Murillo: Des Meisters Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1913, pp. xviii, 65, 286, 292, ill., dates it about 1668–82.
August L. Mayer. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1913, vol. 2, p. 97.
Illustrated Catalogue of the Exhibition of Spanish Old Masters. Exh. cat., Grafton Galleries. London, 1914, pp. 79–81, no. 76, pl. 35, states that the painting was detained in Antwerp due to the English siege between 1808 and 1809.
August L. Mayer. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922, p. 340.
August L. Mayer inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 25, Leipzig, 1931, p. 286.
August L. Mayer. "Murillo und seine italienischen Barockvorbilder." Critica d'arte 3 (June 1938), p. 120, dates it about 1669–72 and claims it is derived from Titian's Madonna and Child in Munich (formerly in the Escorial).
Louise Burroughs. "A Painting of the Virgin and Child by Murillo." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (May 1943), pp. 261–65, ill. (overall and details), dates it about 1670–71.
Lorenzo Varela. Murillo. Buenos Aires, 1946, p. 87, pls. 41–42 (overall and detail).
Manuel Toussaint. Arte Colonial en México. Mexico City, 1948, p. 159, notes that he has seen in a Mexican private collection a superior replica of Murillo's Virgin and Child from the Santiago collection, London [the present work].
Emiliano M. Aguilera. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Barcelona, 1950, p. 19.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 71.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), pp. 4, 30, ill.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 247, no. 1914, dates it to about 1668–82.
Martin Soria in George Kubler and Martin Soria. Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions, 1500 to 1800. Baltimore, 1959, pp. 277, 311, pl. 148B, dates it to about 1670–75 and believes Murillo knew Titian's Madonna and Child [see Ref. Mayer 1938] only through a copy; notes that Cristóbal de Villalpando's "The Triumph of the Church" [sic, for "The Church Militant and Triumphant"] in Mexico Cathedral includes a Virgin and Child based on this composition.
Francisco de la Maza. "Pintura barroca mexicana (Cristóbal de Villalpando)." Archivo español de arte 36 (January–March 1963), p. 32, pl. 2, cites it as a source for the figure of Charity in Villalpando's "La Iglesia militante y triunfante" (see Ref. Soria 1959).
Jonathan Brown. "Painting in Seville from Pacheco to Murillo: A Study of Artistic Transition." PhD diss., Princeton University, 1964, pp. 251–52, fig. 42.
Francisco de la Maza. El pintor Cristóbal de Villalpando. Mexico City, 1964, pp. 64, 77, ill.
Louise S. Richards. "Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: A Drawing Study for a Virgin and Child." Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art 15 (September 1968), pp. 235, 237, 239 n. 2, ill., publishes a drawing in Cleveland (fig. 1) as a preparatory study for our painting.
Jonathan Brown in Jonathan Brown and Robert Enggass. Italy and Spain, 1600–1750: Sources and Documents. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1970, p. 201.
Diego Angulo Iñiguez. "Algunos dibujos de Murillo." Archivo español de arte 47 (April–June 1974), p. 105, mentions the painting in relation to the Cleveland drawing, which he erroneously cites as also in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Gridley McKim-Smith. Spanish Baroque Drawings in North American Collections. Exh. cat., University of Kansas Museum of Art. Lawrence, Kans., 1974, pp. 49–50, ill., dates it to about 1670.
Jonathan Brown. Murillo & His Drawings. Exh. cat., Art Museum, Princeton University. Princeton, 1976, pp. 11, 31, 165–66, ill., catalogues and illustrates the Cleveland drawing.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. L'opera completa di Murillo. Milan, 1978, pp. 105, 119, no. 217, ill., dates it about 1670.
Marcus B. Burke inSpain and New Spain: Mexican Colonial Arts in their European Context. Exh. cat., Art Museum of South Texas. Corpus Christi, Tex., 1979, p. 28.
Denys Sutton. "Robert Langton Douglas, Part IV, XX: New York." Apollo 110 (July 1979), p. 38, ill.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 331–32, fig. 597.
Eric Young. Bartolomé Murillo: Werkverzeichnis. Frankfurt am Main, 1980, p. 70, no. 222, ill., dates it to about 1670.
Mark M. Johnson. Idea to Image: Preparatory Studies from the Renaissance to Impressionism. Exh. cat.Cleveland, 1980, pp. 46–48, ill.
Diego Angulo Iñiguez. Murillo. Madrid, 1981, vol. 1, p. 432; vol. 2, pp. 159–60, no. 164, vol. 3, pl. 382, dates the painting about 1670–80; lists copies in Florence, Mexico, and Valencia, and observes that since Murillo has inverted Titian's composition [see Ref. Mayer 1936] he may only have known it through an engraving.
Manuela Mena Marqués Enrique Valdivieso inBartolomé Estéban Murillo [1617-1682]. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 1982, p. 292.
Juan Miguel Serrera. "Murillo y la pintura italiana de los siglos XVI y XVII: Nuevas relaciones y concomitancias." Goya (July–December 1982), p. 127.
Edward J. Sullivan and Nina A. Mallory. Painting in Spain 1650–1700 from North American Collections. Exh. cat., Art Museum, Princeton University. Princeton, 1982, p. 168, ill. (not in exhibition).
Harold E. Wethey. "Spanish Painting of the Late Baroque." Art Journal 42 (Winter 1982), p. 334.
Claudie Ressort inMurillo dans les musées français. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1983, p. 24, no. 36, dates it about 1660–65, following Murillo's stay in Madrid, and sees in it the influence of Titian and Van Dyck.
Nina Ayala Mallory. Bartolomé Estebán Murillo. Madrid, 1983, pp. 33, 63, fig. 58, doubts that Murillo relied on a print rather than on Titian's original, as the treatment here is "completely Venetian," reflecting Titian's late style.
Nigel Glendinning. "A Footnote to Goya's "Portrait of the Marquesa de Santiago"." J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 149, identifies it as the "Our Lady of the Milk with the Child" in the 1728 posthumous inventory of Don Francisco Estéban Rodríguez de los Ríos, the first holder of the Santiago title, although the dimensions are given as 167 x 84 cm.
Antonio Palomino. Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors. Cambridge, 1987, pp. 282, 285 n. 7.
María de los Santos García Felguera. La fortuna de Murillo (1682–1900). Seville, 1989, p. 60.
Enrique Valdivieso. Murillo: Sombras de la tierra, luces del cielo. Madrid, 1990, pp. 193–94.
Jonathan Brown. The Golden Age of Painting in Spain. New Haven, 1991, pp. 282–83, ill., dates it about 1675–80.
Marcus B. Burke. Pintura y escultura en Nueva España: El barroco. Mexico, 1992, pp. 110–11, 158, ill. (color).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 161, ill.
Edward J. Sullivan inConverging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America. Ed. Diana Fane. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. New York, 1996, pp. 39–40, ill.
Juana Gutiérrez Haces et al. Cristóbal de Villalpando, ca. 1649–1714. Mexico City, 1997, pp. 204, 272, notes that Villalpando includes a figure of charity based on this composition in his paintings of "The Church Militant and Triumphant" in the cathedrals of Mexico City and Guadalajara; states that the work in Mexico City was completed in 1685.
Jonathan Brown. Painting in Spain, 1500–1700. New Haven, 1998, p. 231, ill.
Suzanne L. Stratton-Pruitt inBartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682): Paintings from North American Collections. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum. New York, 2002, pp. 30–31, 44, 162–64, no. 23, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Marcus B. Burke. "Fort Worth and Los Angeles: Murillo in America." Burlington Magazine 144 (July 2002), p. 458, ill. (color).
Sofía Sanabrais. "The Influence of Murillo in New Spain." Burlington Magazine 147 (May 2005), p. 327, fig. 28, asserts that as "no reproductive print was made of the painting before Villalpando's 'Church militant' was completed, it seems likely that the artist had access to a contemporary copy either by Murillo or by one of his followers"; states that a Murillo follower, Juan Simón Gutiérrez, is recorded in a document of 1678 as exporting a large shipment of devotional paintings to New Spain in 1673; suggests that he copied this Virgin and Child and exported the replica to Mexico City.
Elizabeth A. Pergam. "From Manchester to Manhattan: The Transatlantic Art Trade After 1857." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 87, no. 2 (2005), pp. 82, 86, 90.
Marcus Burke inThe Arts in Latin America: 1492–1820. Ed. Joseph J. Rishel and Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 2006, p. 84 n.31.
Benito Navarrete Prieto. Murillo y las metáforas de la imagen. Madrid, 2017, p. 140, fig. 89 (color).
Katharine Baetjer inEuropean Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. South Brisbane, 2021, pp. 121, 232, ill. p. 120 (color).
Guillaume Kientz inMurillo: From Heaven to Earth. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum. Fort Worth, 2022, p. 2, fig. 3 (color).
The frame is from Southern Spain and dates to about 1660 (see figs. 4–7 above). This carved painted and giltwood reverse profile frame is made of pine and secured with mortise and tenon joints at the corners. The top edge carving at the sight edge includes a cabochon with crossed intervals on a step. The outer hollow’s smooth reposes are punctuated by lotus leaf carved corners and centers and delicate lotus leaf at the back edge. With only minor ingilding this frame, in a ubiquitous Spanish form, retains much of its original water gilding on a bright red bole. Reduced adjacent to the corner carvings on the vertical sides the red passages may have originally been marbleized.
Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2016; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files
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