Visita Los Venerables



Velázquez and Murillo reunite at the Focus Foundation in Sevilla


Velázquez. Murillo. Sevilla - the first large exhibition of the Year of Murillo that City Hall of Seville is promoting. It is organized by the Focus Foundation with special collaboration with the Museo del Prado and is curated by Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the London National Gallery

This is the first time that Velázquez and Murillo confront each other by means of 19 masterpieces -seven of which have never been displayed before in Seville - against the background of the influence that the city had on them

Loaned paintings from the greatest international museums and private collections (Louvre, National Gallery, Meadows, Kunsthistorisches, The Frick Collection, The Wellington Collection, Dulwich Picture, Nelson-Atkins, the Museum of Orleans and The Fondo Cultural Villar-Mir) will allow an innovative reflection to be made on the relationship and affinities that the two geniuses of universal painting shared

The exhibition is organized by the Focus Foundation and celebrates the 25 years that it has been based in the Hospital de los Venerables

Seville, 7 November, 2016. Today in the Hospital de los Venerables, the Focus Foundation opens Velázquez. Murillo. Seville, curated by Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the London National Gallery and organized in close collaboration with the Museo Nacional del Prado and the Town Hall of Seville that is organizing the Year of Murillo, and the Cultural Department of the Regional Government of Andalucia.  This is the first large exhibition of programmed events to mark the 400th anniversary of the Sevillian painter. By means of the 19 paintings selected, the curator offers an innovative reflection - more ideal than direct-  on the relationship between these two masters with a series of markers, placing special emphasis on the common ground found in Seville, the city that promotes both painters which proved to be a cosmopolitan, cultured and devout city, one where painting was a hallmark and a reason for civic pride. The exhibition is supported by the Cajasol Foundation, ABC and the Cruzcampo Foundation.  

Along with the curator Gabriele Finaldi, the following eminent persons were present at the presentation ceremony for the exhibition;  Rosa Aguilar, Councilor for Culture Regional Government of Andalucia; José Borrell, Vice President of the Focus Foundation; Carmen Castreño, Deputy Mayor of the Town Hall of Seville; Miguel Zugaza, Director of the Museo del Prado; the Duque de Wellington; Antonio Pulido, President of the Cajasol Foundation; Jorge Paradela, President of the Cruzcampo Foundation; Catalina Luca de Tena and Álvaro Ybarra, President of ABC and Director of ABC, respectively; Guillaume Kientz, Spanish paintings conservator at the Lourve Museum; Paloma Fernández Iriondo, Manager of the Fondo Cultural Villar Mir; and Anabel Morillo, General Director of the Focus Foundation.

Both painters were born in Seville at least a generation apart, Velázquez in 1599 and Murillo in 1617, and it was in this climate that the two artists were trained. The pictorial intelligence, the sensibility to light, the form and the texture, in addition to the personality and narrative qualities of both artists took shape in the city. The virtuoso technique of both painters enabled them to take on any subject or genre whether it be a supernatural apparition or scenes from everyday life. Velázquez left the city of his birth in 1623 and moved to Madrid  to embark on a stunning career at the service of Felipe IV and it was in this international and very competitive climate where he came into contact with Italian painting schools and those in Northern Europe that were ever present in the royal collections of the capital. On two occasions he travelled to the transalpine country and painted mythological and historical paintings and fewer religious scenes.

Murillo conducted his entire professional life in Seville. The city provided him with many clients, from religious orders and brotherhoods, to requests from the Cathedral and its parishes. He produced a wealth of devotional art for both private and public use some by commission and others to be sold thereafter. Profane narrative scenes and the naked human form are absent from practically all of his work, although he was a skilled portraitist. It is thought that he travelled to Madrid on several occasions and this was significant to his pictorial style, however, he never travelled out of Spain. And while Velázquez produced 130 paintings over nearly four decades, Murillo produced over 400 compositions over a similar time period, and from the latter more paintings have been preserved.

The exhibition will open its doors on November 8 and will run until February 28, 2017. According to Anabel Morillo, Director of the Focus Foundation, it marks the culmination of a strict line which has taken Baroque in all of its different facets as the center of its activity (plastic art, music, seminars, the library and the engraving collection), something that is deeply rooted in the culture life of Seville and Andalusia, yet not overlooking the fact that the Foundation has succeeded in diversifying its view and built bridges towards other approaches, tending to the current manifestations and to other distant and contemporary cultures. She added that this new exhibition milestone in the Year of Murillo has been made possible thanks to the support of the Mayor of Seville and Andalusian institutions, together with the generosity of the Museo del Prado and other international museums.

Gabriele Finaldi, the Curator of the exhibition presents an innovative and not a revisionist look at the areas of common interest of Velázquez and Murillo’s pictorial production: the way they dealt with similar subjects and themes, and perhaps even more    precisely with those which are Seville related. From there, they explored the narrative painting comparing the use of color and tone and directing their attention to comparable pictorial processes and paralleled artistic results. Murillo may have taken an interest in the more than 20 paintings that Velázquez produced during his Sevillian period, however, most art historians believe that the author of The Brenda Surrender had a limited influence on Murillo.

Affinities and differences of the two great masters on reuniting in Seville

The ability both artists possessed in communicating directly with viewers of their masterpieces is to be admired with the 19 paintings that have been selected for the exhibition, nine by Veláquez and dated between 1617 and 1656, and 10 by Murillo dated between 1645 and 1680. New devotional iconography is appreciated by means of a series of pairs and triptychs of superb works, or the innovative way of catching the daily life and the intimate family life which Velázquez and Murillo developed.

Included in the different connections that are offered are essential aspects of Sevillian painting; how both artists represented the Immaculate Conception, the city’s patron saints, Justa and Rufina, the apostles or The Penitent Saint Peter, to name just a few.

The two Immaculate Conceptions by Velázquez can be viewed together for the very first time in the Hospital de los Venerables, one from the National Gallery that was painted in 1619 and one from the Focus Foundation. The author of Las Meninas pioneered the way of representing the Immaculate Virgin, free from all of his contemporaries’ restraints, bringing together the earthly and heavenly condition of the Virgin by means of natural effects both in the way the carnations are held, in the delicate way that light is dealt with and with the diaphanous cloud. When both representations are viewed, it is the one from the Focus Collection which offers a more sculptural Virgin figure while the painting from the National Gallery becomes increasingly open, with a naturalistic execution and individualized on a real model. Velázquez had not yet turned 20 years old when he painted both oil paintings.  Murillo became the interpreter of the Immaculate, par excellence and, next to these two masterpieces by Velázquez, one of his oil paintings  can be admired which has never been shown before in Spain, namely; the Immaculate Conception, belonging to the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, dated 1670 and similar in size, that shares a modest introspection. Although it is surrounded by playful angels, the tone of the painting is much lighter that the shadowy scenes of Velázquez.  

Another triptych of paintings of great interest is the representation of the city’s two patron saints: Rufina y Santa.  The Santa Rufina from the Focus Foundation by Velázquez in 1635 joins The Santa Justa and The Santa Rufina, two oil paintings by Murillo painted around 1660, loaned by the Meadows Museum in Dallas and previously unseen in Seville. With these two masterpieces, Murillo reveals his composition talents and as Santa Justa raises the eyes to the heavens, Santa Rufina is directed at the viewer. There is devotion and beauty in the pair of saints and a wide range of colour.  Also to be highlighted among the religious iconography is the emotional intensity of The Tears of Saint Peter, around 1617-1619 from the Fondo Cultural Villar Mir which confronts Murillo’s Pertinent Saint Peter from the Focus Foundation and painted around 1678 – 1680 which was acquired from a private collection in the United Kingdom, restored in the Museo del Prado and is now back in the its rightful place that it occupied in the Hospital of the Venerables. And, last of all the notable naturalism of Veláquez with Saint Thomas, painted around 1618-1620, from the Orleans Museum whose influence is seen in Murillo’s Apostle James, painted around 1655 -1660 and that is property of the Museo del Prado. 

The Adoratión of The Magi, 1619, by Velázquez next to The Holy Family with the Little Bird, 1650 by Murillo make a very subtle set. Both paintings are from the Museo del Prado and have been restored for the exhibition. Their close proximity reveals how both artists use a similar naturalist language and a similar palette as they explore the psychology of family relationships, greater in content with Velázquez and more emotion in the case Murillo. And between the The Infant Margaret in White Dress from the Kunsthistorisches in Viena, painted around 1656, which is displayed in an ideal relationship with Santa Ana Teaching the Virgen to Read, 1655, as if this were a Court scene where the virgin child resembles a young princess.  Both artists greatly contribute to the tradition of European genre painting with scenes of humble people in modest and daily settings, quite often accompanied by some still-life element.

By the end of 1610 and at the beginning of the next decade, Velázquez produced a group of genre paintings that make an impression due to his skill in imitating natural reality. Two Young Men Eating, 1622, is one of them, obtained from Apsley House, The Wellington Collection in London. It is a scene depicting humble people in an austere interior, characterized by a palette of earthly colours that highlight the volumes and a series of reflections in kitchen reflections, so well rooted in popular Sevillian painting.  Right beside this masterpiece are two of Murillos paintings;  The Young Beggar, 1645-1650,  from the Louvre Museum that appears to have conscientiously adhered to the tradition established by Velázquez; and Three Boys, dated around 1670, from the  Dulwich Picture Gallery, which captures a more uncertain scene of social and racial  relationships in a Seville  after the plague of 1649.

Velázquez and Murillo were concerned with leaving their hallmarks of their physical appearance and their social recognition,  always with a dignified posie, almost aristocratic  as can be appreciated in the three self-portraits of Velázquez, including The Meninas, or the two by Murillo. The exhibition also confronts Velázquez’ young self-portrait (1623), while with Murillo, we can admire the self-portrait from the Frick Collection which was acquired by the New York collection. The painter’s image appears on a pretend slab made of stone well depicting his fame which is indestructible and eternal.


A catalogue will be edited to coincide with the exhibition which will includes an essay by Gabriele Finaldi, the Curator of the exhibition, in which he outlines the reasons for an exhibition with both masters; notes by the General Director of the Focus Foundation; Anabel Morillo, about the key themes and strategies of the exhibition as well as its program of exhibition that spans three decades; another text that covers the artistic relationships between Seville and the Spanish Court by Javier Portús, who is in charge of the Conservation of Spanish Painting at the Museo del Prado that addresses the working environments of each painter and the different audiences for which they painted which  had an effect on the kinds of painting they produced. And last of all a study undertaken by María Álvarez-Garcillán and Jaime García-Maiquez- both from the Museo del Prado that explores the similiarities in the artistic training of both masters and a comparison of techniques and materials, with an analysis of how the mountings and cloth came to be made that emphasizes and combines the care in the preparation with spontaneous execution.

Anabel Morillo León, directora de la Fundación Focus y Gabriele Finaldi, comisario de la muestra

From left to right Alvaro Rodriguez Guitart, managing director of ABC, Gabriele Finaldi, curator of ‘Velázquez. Murillo. Sevilla’, Jose Borrell, vice president of the Focus Foundation, Antonio Pulido, president of Cajasol Foundation, Rosa Aguilar, Minister of Culture of the Government of Andalusia, Carmen Castreño, first deputy mayor of Seville, Anabel Morillo, Director General of Foundation Focus, Foundation Charles Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, Joaquín Paradela, president of the Cruzcampo Foundation, Miguel Zugaza, director of Museo del Prado.

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La infanta Margarita de blanco, procedente del Museo de Viena

From left to right: Charles Wellesley, Duke of Wellington; Gabriele Finaldi, curator of Velázquez. Murillo. Sevilla.; and Miguel Zugaza, director of Museo del Prado.

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Santa Ana enseñando a leer a la Virgen, del Museo del Prado

Gabriele Finaldi, curator of ‘Velázquez. Murillo. Sevilla’.

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