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Saint Thomas of Villanueva giving alms to the poor

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo1668/1669

Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

Over the centuries, this painting has attracted much praise from experts. In the 18th century, Palomino tells us that Murillo was especially proud of it and that he called it his canvas. Although Saint Thomas of Villanova was an Augustinian, his presence in this series is due to his quality as a holy beggar, a practice that he continued as Archbishop of Valencia, a virtue closely associated with the Capuchin spirit. The scene is depicted in a palatial interior, with classic architectural lines. It is one of the most successful compositions of the painter’s work, which includes, together with the architectural elements, popular characters and details of great emotional intensity. The careful treatment of light that simultaneously highlights the various focuses of attention that compose the painting make it a masterpiece of his production.

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