The Virgin and Child with Saints
  • Date: c. 1665-1670
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 70.5 x 51.1 cm
  • Object size: 94 x 76 x 11 cm
  • Inv: P3
  • Location: Great Gallery
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Further Reading
  • This is a preparatory sketch for a large composition, probably for the Capuchin Church in Seville. Saints Justa and Rufina are the female patron saints of Seville. They were sisters who made fine earthenware pottery, which they refused to sell for pagan rituals. They were martyred in the year 304. In 1504, the tower of Seville Cathedral was saved from destruction during a thunder storm, and the saints came to be venerated as its saviours. Murillo depicts the two sisters kneeling beside their pottery, holding their palms of martyrdom. Pentiments (changes to the composition) show that they were originally painted holding a small model of the tower. With St Francis of Assisi and St John the Baptist, they adore the vision of the Virgin and Child, surrounded by a host of heavenly angels. The foreboding darkness of the earth, associated with earthly misery and martyrdom, dissolves into the glorious white light of divinity.

    The painting was acquired by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in 1843.