Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo (1617 - 1682)
- The Marriage of the Virgin
- c. 1660 - c. 1670
- Oil on mahogany panel
- Object size: 106 x 90 x 13 cm
Image size: 72.2 x 55.4 cm
- Great Gallery
- The subject of this painting has no Biblical source but is found rather in
the Golden Legend and the Apocryphal New Testament. When Mary was to
be married, suitors were called to the Temple, and Joseph was chosen to
be her husband by a sign from God. Murillo depicts the moment when the
Virgin takes the hand of Joseph, as their marriage is blessed by the high priest
of the temple of Jerusalem, Zacharias. The Holy Spirit descends on the couple, as Joseph’s rod symbolically bursts into flower, as ordained by God. Murillo shows a group of unsuccessful suitors to the right, one of whom breaks his rod in anger.
This painting stands out for its brilliant colour range, including pairings of warm and cool colours. Widely acknowledged as one of Murillo’s masterpieces, it was recorded in the Spanish Royal Collection
at the Prado in 1772. It is painted on mahogany, a tropical hardwood native
to Central and South America and a very precious material in seventeenth-century Europe.
The 4th Marquess of Hertford bought the painting in 1848 at the Laneuville
sale in Paris for 25,000 francs.