This painting was offered to the King of Portugal, Luís I, by Isabel II, the Queen of Spain, probably in the context of her visit to Portugal in 1865. The same queen had given another version of the same painting to Pope Pius IX, which was later discovered to be fake. The MNAA's painting reveals the appealing naturalism of Murillo’s religious representations and the influence of the chiaroscuro that characterised the paintings of his youth. The composition was inspired by a Raphael Sadeler’s engraving, based on a painting by Polidoro da Lanciano. With radiography it was possible to ascertain that Murillo had initially painted a background with architectural elements and a curtain behind the Virgin, later adopting a completely black background, from which the figures stand out. He also changed the position of the Christ Child. These alterations allow for the identification of a drawing by Murillo in the Kunsthalle Hamburg, dated 29 January 1655, as a memory based on the painting from Lisbon, which must therefore be dated prior to the execution of the drawing.


  • Title: The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine
  • Creator: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
  • Date Created: 17th century
  • Location Created: Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: 76.5 cm x 94.5 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: MNAA Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, inv. 1608 Pint
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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