Known among Guadalajara society as Murillos, the 11 canvases related to life of Saint Francis of Assisi, in permanent exhibition at Guadalajara Regional Museum, are being analyzed to verify if they are really part of the Sevillian Painting School or New Spain oil paintings attributed to Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682) school.
Restorer Adriana Cruz Lara Silva heads the research at this National Institute of Anthropology and History
(INAH), where experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) will apply spectroscopic techniques such as X ray fluorescence, as well as advanced photographic methods that involve ultraviolet and infrared rays.
These studies will extend until mid 2010; They could reveal if we are facing a European series of Sevillian tradition or a New Spain collection wrongly attributed to the school of Murillo.
According to the specialist, although it has some relevance if the paintings belong or not to Murillos workshop, in this moment we are interested in determining materials used by the author, or authors, how compositions were worked, how colors were mixed, etc.
The 17th-century oil paintings have always been polemic, since they are not signed and there is no document that validates their belonging to Bartolome Esteban Murillo workshop.
Paco de la Peña, director of Guadalajara Regional Museum, explained the origin of this controversy: the legend tells that the pictures had to arrive to Lima, Peru, and by error they got to Nueva Galicia.
During the first decades of 20th-century, the pictures starred a quarrel between the director of the museum at the time, Ixca Farias, and a journalist from El Independiente, who questioned the authenticity of artwork.
Ixca Farias answered immediately with a letter where he affirmed that paintings were from Murillo workshop. People began to identify the collection as Los Murillos, he added.
In these moments we are registering, taking samples and discussing particular features of each painting. Material and technique studies may indicate if they belong to the Sevillian School, added restorer Cruz Lara.
The specialist, who proposed these studies, mentioned that linking the conjunct to a pictorial school is not a simple task, since material used in both sides of the ocean were similar.
Murillo was a relevant artist in his time and centuries later; many artists both in Spain and New Spain followed his style, named Murillesca Painting, not created but influenced by him.
The restorer concluded that Murillos of Guadalajara Regional Museum are not the only canvases attributed to the Sevillian painter in the city; there is an image of the Immaculate Conception also adjudicated to him.