The exhibition, on display at the Museo del Prado
, comprises seventeen paintings, five of which have been specially restored for this event. They range from religious and devotional works to portraits, allegories and the only known miniature attributed to Murillo.
Following the major exhibition on the artist held in London and Madrid in 1982, there have been further ones focusing on specific aspects of his output. None, however, has looked at the creative dynamic generated by the relationship between Murillo and Justino de Neve, which gave rise to an important group of paintings. The fruitful results of their friendship are now the subject of the present exhibition, organised by the Museo del Prado, the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, Seville, founded in 1670 on the initiative of Justino de Neve and now the headquarters of Fundación Focus-Abengoa, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, which houses an important group of works by the artist.
The paintings in the present exhibition are an outstanding testimony to some of the most significant artistic projects undertaken in Seville during the period in question, introducing the visitor into the heart of its distinctive manifestation of the Baroque style and its fusion of art, spirituality and culture.
In addition to the works originally painted for Justino de Neves private collection, others were commissioned by him for the church of Santa María la Blanca (the reconstruction of which he supervised), the citys cathedral and the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, an institution for the care of elderly priests of which Neve was a founder.
The present exhibition reveals how Justino de Neve was one of Murillos most important and original patrons. Among the works that he commissioned from him were the four large lunettes of The Founding of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, three now restored for this exhibition; The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables (also known as The Soult Immaculate Conception) from the Museo del Prados own collection, which will be exhibited in its original frame still in the church of the Venerables Sacerdotes, headquarters of Fundación Focus-Abengoa; the allegories of Spring (Girl with Flowers), also restored for the exhibition, and Summer (Young Man with a Basket of Fruit) loaned from the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland, respectively; and some exceptionally refined religious scenes painted on obsidian, loaned by the Museo del Louvre and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (Rienzi).