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"This is Murillo's most celebrated depiction of a single female figure, a subject comparatively rare in his work. The painting is usually dated to the late 1660s, and the model may be Murillo's only daughter, Francesca, who became a nun in 1671.

This figure’s youth, smile and lapful of flowers suggest that she is best understood as a personification of Spring - presumably one of a set of four seasons. It has recently been suggested that a painting at the National Gallery of Scotland, showing a similar, male, figure may be Summer."

Details

  • Title: The Flower Girl
  • Date: 1665-70
  • Physical Dimensions: w983 x h1207 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: Query provenance given in London and Munich, 2001, p. 112, no. 16: says bt Bassan, bt Calonne, sold London by Calonne, 28 Mar, 1795, lot 99; bt Desenfans. Is this correct given the earlier provenance information which has the picture being sold by Le Brun?An old copy in the Vienna Akademie.Possibly: London, Langdon, 13 Apr. 1803, lot 32 (ÔMorillio - Flower Girl'). Not any of the other pics in Getty:Another copy [?] also known: London, FA, 9 Feb. 1804, lot 92 ('MURILLO'S DAUGHTER'); Thomas Holcroft; his sale, London, Squibb, 16 Feb. 1807, lot 61 ('Flower Girl. -- True and uncommonly fine. -- Painted from the same Model as the famous Picture now in the Collection of M. Desenfans, and formerly in that of Mons. De Calonne'). Bt Philippe Panné for Gs26.
  • Work Nationality: Spanish
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: Seville, Justino de Neve, bef. 1685; Nicol‡s Omazur by 1690; Comtesse de Verrue, bef. 1737; Comte de Lassay, d. 1750; Comte de la Guiche; Blondel de Gagny; his sale, Paris, 10 Dec. 1776, lot 3. Bt Bassan (as ex-Verrue and Lassay); Randon de Boissey Collection; London, Christie's, Le Brun of Paris sale, 19 Mar. 1785, lot 29; C. A. de Calonne; his sale, London, Skinner and Dyke, 26 Mar. 1795, lot 99 (as ex-Randon de Boisset). Bt Desenfans; London, Noel Desenfans; London, Sir Peter Bourgeois; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: "Hogarth once said that he had seen English cookmaids more beautiful than greek statues. Murillo here presents us with just such a below stairs ideal. It is as if he is saying that an artist's skill lies not in inventing beauty but in recognising it in unlikely places. This peasant girl spreads open her shawl with an instinctive grace; her sleeves and head-scarf crumple rhythmically, like rose-petals. Reality is further sweetened by a downy surface and slight soft-focus, achieved by dragging thick paint over a coarse weave of canvas. But this is still earthly beauty; it could never be confused with Murillo's heavenly 'Madonna of the Rosary' (DPG281). Even her smile is more mischievous than angelic. The cheap colours - oranges and browns - contrast with the costly blues and golds of the 'Madonna'. A dull greyness lingers round the figure, as if ash had been mixed into the shadows. The drabness of this world is shown up by the radience of the next. 'The Flower Girl' is a meditation on transience - on a beauty as fragile as a plucked flower, threatened by a smoky dusk of decay. The model recurs in other works by Murillo and is possibly his daughter; Francisca. Angulo suggests a date of c.1670. The picture was one of the most extensively copied at the Gallery in the nineteenth century."
  • Artist: Murillo, Bartolomé Estéban
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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