Murillo and the Capuchins of Seville is the exhibition that pays tribute to one of the great Spanish Baroque artists and the most important within the Sevillian school of painting.
Text - Fernando Serrano
400 years after the birth of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, the Junta de Andalucía, together with the Museo de Bellas Artes of Seville, pays tribute to the artist by bringing together the group of paintings he painted for the Capuchin convent in Seville.
Objective of the sample
"This exhibition makes possible the reconstruction of the entire series, which for the first time, since the Napoleonic invasion caused their dispersion in the 19th century, have been reunited", explain the organizers of the exhibition. Most of the works on display belong to the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville since the confiscation of ecclesiastical property carried out in 1835. As the organizers explain, "generous loans from Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and the cathedral of Seville have been added". Of all the contributions, of particular relevance is the transfer of the most significant work of the set, The Jubilee of the Portiuncula, "due to the large format of the painting and the length of the loan period". Those responsible for the exhibition explain that, "ehe agreement between the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville is an exceptional example of collaboration between European cultural institutions.". The Minister of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía, Miguel Angel Vazquez stressed during the presentation of the exhibition the importance of the same: "The exhibition will be held on the occasion of the presentation of the exhibition.For the first time in two centuries, we will be able to see all the paintings that Murillo did for the Capuchin convent in Seville together.".
The exhibition Murillo and the Capuchins of Seville contains a part dedicated to showing the author's creative process through drawings and works related to his work. This part is complemented with additional information on the restoration processes, as well as on the history of the works on display. About that history of the paintings, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville, María Valme Muñoz, highlighted: "Despite the eventful history suffered. Fortunately, most of the paintings returned to the city where they were created. Where they became the most famous collection of the Fine Arts Museum of Seville.".
"Because of exhibitions like this, we are now in the spotlight, worldwide, as a city '....ideal destination'. to be visited in 2018"explained the mayor of Seville, Juan Espada, ".and not only because of the heritage and history that this city already offers, but also because of the commitment we have made to culture and the quality of the Murillo Year, which is an additional attraction.".
Beyond the exhibition
The celebration of this Murillo Year has a special impact in Seville. Over the next 16 months, the city of Seville will host a wide range of cultural activities to highlight the figure of Murillo: from concerts and musical cycles to cultural and tourist itineraries, as well as lectures and conferences.
One of the main activities carried out on this anniversary is the tourist and cultural itinerary In the footsteps of Murillo. It covers up to twenty emblematic places that allow first-hand access to the life and work of the Baroque painter. This tour is done through 50 original paintings and more than 80 reproductions of his most important works. Enrique Valdivieso, coordinator of the tour, shows his interest in these initiatives to last in time: "We are very pleased to see that the tour will last".The objective of the Murillo Year is to expand the city's heritage with these routes, which are intended to last beyond the anniversary and will enrich the capital's tourist and heritage offer.".
The mayor of Seville, Juan Espada, also emphasizes the importance of these events for the city: "With the start of this Murillo Year, Seville is at the center of the Spanish capitals. From this moment and throughout this year, is one of the most powerful cities at the cultural level.".
In addition to this tour and the exhibitions, the Sevillian Association of Tourist Companies has launched the Murillo in Seville program. It seeks to carry out different activities such as dramatized visits, workshops, gastronomic routes... The association is formed by 24 companies and institutions of the city of Seville.
Murillo in Seville
In the city of Seville there are 21 points related to the baroque painter. The center of this artistic map is Murillo's house, where you can purchase an audio guide that will help you to explore the painter's mark on the city. The audio guide costs 11 euros and does not have to be returned, but visitors can keep it and extend their visit as many days as they wish. In this way, the itineraries related to the artist are not a passing fad on the occasion of this anniversary, but the organizers aim to keep it over time.
The proposed tour includes stops at the cathedral, the Alcázar, the Archivo General de Indias and the Hospital de la Caridad. Each of these places has a special relationship with Murillo. The cathedral was the nerve center of the artist's Seville. The painter worked for the chapter between 1655 and 1667, producing some of his most important works during this period, many of which can be seen in the cathedral in the places where they were originally intended. The Alcazar has a posthumous relationship with the artist, Murillo did not make any painting for him. In 1810 the building was home to the Napoleonic Museum, a gallery that housed nearly a thousand works plundered from the religious institutions of the city, among them, 45 were by Murillo.
With the current Archivo General de Indias, a building with which Murillo had a close relationship, since it was here that he installed the Academy of Painting, founded by the artist and by Herrera el Joven in 1660. During this Murillo Year, the Archive displays in its interior reproductions of drawings by Murillo and the painters who trained in this academy, such as Arteaga or Iriarte.
Another stop on this tour is the Hospital de la Caridad. Murillo had a personal and professional relationship with the Hermandad de la Santa Caridad. The artist joined the institution in 1665, and between 1667 and 1870 he made some of his paintings. Currently, there are seven original paintings by Murillo in the building.
In short, this important event offers the opportunity to see as a whole one of the most significant cycles of the Spanish Baroque. The result of these activities is the historical, material and aesthetic recovery of Murillo's legacy, to which is added the unique opportunity and the emotional value of being able to enjoy the figure and work of Murillo in his city, Seville.