Fundación Focus
<em>Velázquez Centre</em>

Velázquez Centre

Focus Foundation

Bartolomé E. Murillo

(Seville, 1617 – Cádiz, 1682)
Artist biography

St Catherine, c. 1650

Oil on canvas

77 x 60 cm.

Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla

St Catherine, c. 1650

This work by Murillo is clearly influenced by the young Velázquez’s works in the style of the Seville school and the city’s dominant naturalist method. It also marks the end of the discourse around the portraiture of the divine, which started with the Santa Inés and Santa Catalina by Pacheco. During Napoleon’s invasion, this painting was stolen by Marshal Soult from the Santa Catalina church in Seville and carried off to France. Such was its fame and importance that it was copied by Delacroix on a canvas that is now in the Museum of Béziers.

In his treatise Viaje de España, art writer Antonio Ponz says of this work, “One of the paintings in this church is the eponymous saint, a half-body portrait, painted by Murillo”. Meanwhile, the historian González de León, talking about church paintings in 1844, describes the paintings in the Convent of Santa Catalina, saying, “There were several works of merit in this church, which have not lost much through neglect or theft; a Santa Catalina, a half-body portrait, by Murillo”. This piece, now recovered by the Focus Foundation, is once again shown alongside the reference works that helped to illuminate a moment of splendour in the history of Seville.

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