The John the Baptist series was probably painted c. 1655 for the monastery of San Leandro in Murillo's home town of Seville (where it remained until 1812), and it marks an important step in the development of Murillo's mature style. 'The Baptism of Christ' already demonstrates mastery of brushwork, reticent colouring and delicately blurred faces, but the forms are not yet so delicately linked together, and the astringent, profoundly serious atmosphere has none of the sweetness of many of his later works, of which the Berlin gallery owned two significant examples until 1945. Murillo clearly surpasses an altar-panel painted by Rubens in Mechelen, which is known to us from drawings and to which Murillo's composition owes a great deal, particularly in the naturalness of the pictorial structure with the two life-size figures. A sprinkling of written quotations emphasizes the didactic quality of the picture, which was reduced in height and breadth by about 20 centimetres, which rendered incomplete the proclamation of God the Father. After the reduction the artist's signature was placed somewhat higher.


  • Title: The Baptism of Christ
  • Creator: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
  • Date Created: 1655
  • Physical Dimensions: w160.1 x h233.2 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Style: Spanish
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Matthias Weniger // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was a Spanish painter of the Baroque. He started his training in Seville under Juan del Castillo. Due to the commercial importance of the city, he was influenced by styles from various regions as well as Flemish painting and adopted a strongly realistic approach. Later his style changed to suit bourgeois and aristocratic tastes. In 1642 he moved to Madrid where he became familiar with the works of Velázquez. After his return to Seville in 1645 he specialized in his most famous theme, images of the Virgin and child. He founded the Academia de bellas artes in 1660 and became its president. His fame largely rested on his religious works, especially his Madonnas, as in the 'Soult Immaculate Conception' (1678). He also executed a variety of portraits of contemporary women and children, full of vivid realism, for instance 'The Little Fruit Seller' (ca.1670-1675).
  • Artist Place of Death: Seville, Spain
  • Artist Place of Birth: Seville, Spain
  • Artist Gender: male

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