Painted towards the end of his career, Murillo idealises this sacred subject and yet imbues the mother and child with a remarkable humanity, particularly in the carefully combed hair of the child and the realistic way he plays with the rosary beads. Murillo was an active member of the Confraternity of the Rosary at his parish church of La Magdalena in Seville, and it is possible that the painting could be linked to such a brotherhood. The painting's fine linen canvas and the ultramarine pigment used for the intense blue of the Virgin's drapery, both expensive materials, suggest that the commission was important.


  • Title: The Madonna of the Rosary
  • Creator Lifespan: 1617 - 1682
  • Date: c.1670-80
  • Physical Dimensions: w1282 x h2008 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: Dated by Angulo 1670-80. Murillo painted this subject on a number of occasions (mostly earlier in his career), which possibly reflects his association from 1644 with the Confraternity of the Rosary of the Magdalen in Seville. What appears to be a sketch for DPG281, in which the Christ Child holds an orb rather than the rosary, was formerly with Silberman, Vienna (Angulo, no.178).Another copy at Corsham court, Wilts. A similar picture belonged to J. B. Lebrun, Desenfans' partner, bt in spain, c. 1807.
  • Work Nationality: Spanish
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: Apparently bt by Alleyne Fitz Herbert, Lord St Helens, in Spain while Ambassador there (1791-94); London, Noel Desenfans, 1804-1807: 1804 Insurance List, no. 3 ('Our Lady of the Rosary'. £1200); London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: Bartolomé Estéban Murillo was born and trained in Seville, Spain. On a trip to Madrid in 1658 he studied the works of Titian and Rubens, which affected his style. As well as religious works, he painted portraits and genre subjects of children, often with moral undertones.
  • Artist: Murillo, Bartolomé Estéban
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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