Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
31 December 1617; Seville, Spain
03 April 1682; Seville, Spain
One of the most popular artists of his time, Bartolome Esteban Murillo was a Spanish baroque painter, best known for his religious works, as well as realistic depictions of the everyday life of his times. His early work was influenced by the painters Zubaran, Jusepe de Ribera, and Alonzo Cano, who all held a realistic approach to painting, a technique which was adapted by Murillo. His work was characterized by both realism and tenebrism, or the contrast of light and shade, which he combined to make soft forms full of rich colors. His later works evolved into a polished style that fed the tastes of the Bourgeois and aristocrats of his day, and he received many commissions for them.
He also received many important commissions from the religious orders of the Franciscans and the confraternities in Seville and Andalusia. The themes that therefore gave him the greatest success were religious, being the Virgin and the Child and the Immaculate Conception.
In his lifetime, Murillo had a great number of pupils and followers, and in 1660, he founded the Academia de Bellas Artes in Seville, Spain. Until the 19th century, he was the only Spanish artist widely known in the European world, and his work was subsequently imitated, ensuring his fame throughout Spain and in Europe.