Lonely Planet Writer

Seville celebrates Baroque painter's 400th anniversary

This year Seville, Lonely Planet’s Number 1 Best in Travel City, is celebrating the 400th anniversary of its most famous painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Seville celebrates painter's anniversary
Saints Justa and Rufina, patronesses of Sevilla by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. Image by: Leemage/Corbis/Getty Images

The Baroque painter lived in the city for most of his life (1617-1682), and was commissioned to produce religious paintings for churches and convents around Seville. He depicted saints and the Virgin Mary wearing beautiful, richly-coloured robes, as well as street children and everyday life – such down-to-earth subjects were uncommon for painters in those days. Murillo’s paintings were widely copied, making him one of Spain’s best-known and most influential artists

Follow in Murillo’s footsteps by learning about 20 important places in the artist’s life and work, including his birthplace, the Cathedral, and Hospital de los Venerables, with the handy MP3 audio guide (in English or Spanish).

One current exhibition, Murillo y los Capuchinos de Sevilla: Reconstruction, open until 1 April shows paintings he made for the altar of the Capuchins’ Convent in Seville, stolen during the Napoleonic invasion and now reunited from museums all over Europe. Look out for two of his most famous: Santa Justa and Santa Rufina, Seville’s patron saints who were potters from Triana, and La Virgen con El Niño, popularly known as the Virgin of the Napkin, as the artist sketched a quick version to show to a Capuchin monk.

Seville celebrates birth of Baroque artist
Birth of the Virgin, 1661, by Bartolome Esteban Perez Murillo (1617-1682) painted for the Chapel of Saint Paul at Seville Cathedral, oil on canvas. Spain, 17th century. Paris, Musée Du Louvre. Image by: DeAgostini/Getty Images

A more contemporary show recreates 12 of Murillo’s paintings for our times, in stylised photographic tableaus where the characters wear shorts,  carry selfie sticks and push shopping trolleys is open to the public until 22 April. At Casa Murillo, where he lived towards the end of his life, you can find out about current exhibitions; pick up a map and passport to be stamped at each place on the route, and watch a film about the painter.

For information about all exhibitions and events, see: murilloysevilla.org

By Fiona Flores Watson