“Two Trinitys,” Bartolome Esteban Murillo – overview of the painting
- Posted by Bartolome Esteban Murillo
- Museum: National Gallery (London)
- Year: Around 1670
Overview of the painting :
Two Trinity – Bartolome Esteban Murillo. Around 1670. Oil on canvas. 29.3 x 20.7 cm
Bartolome Esteban Murillo is an outstanding Spanish painter, a great master of religious and genre painting. He was one of the leading artists in Spain of the seventeenth century, surpassed in life only by Velazquez. Both artists come from Seville, but their temperament, career and style could hardly be more different. Velazquez spent most of his life at a court in Madrid. Murillo stayed in Seville, drawing mainly religious plots in pious traditions. His death was the result of a fall from the scaffold in the Capuchinsky Church in Cadiz. His secular paintings included several virtuoso portraits, but the rest were almost entirely composed of childhood scenes, an unprecedented genre in Spain.
Murillo’s fame overshadowed Velazquez in the eighteenth century, when he took second place after Raphael. Avoiding scenes of martyrdom, he specialized in gentle holy families, cute infant faces, elegant Madonna and impeccable concepts. In later life, he was charmingly encouraging even in the image of stray children.
Bartolome Esteban addressed the topic of the two Trinity earlier, at the beginning of his career, when he portrayed a holy family returning from the temple. The compositions of both paintings come from sixteenth-century prints made for Jesuit prayer books by the Flemish brothers Verix. These images, designed to attract a wide lay audience, emphasized the humble works of the Holy Family and glorified St. Joseph, the carpenter, patron saint of the Virgin and the earthly father of Christ. As God the Father, the dove of the Holy Spirit and Christ form the heavenly Trinity, so Mary, Joseph and Jesus reflect them on earth in the earthly Trinity. In this picture, probably ordered for the altar, Joseph – the only character facing the audience directly – holds a flowering rod – a sign of God’s will to become Mary’s husband. Little Christ stands on a stone, rising above the earthly part of the canvas and approaching the heavenly. Thus, it becomes the semantic and composite center of the picture.
The plot of the work is relatively rare, which is sometimes found in the Netherlands and Spain in the 17th century. It came from the gospel episode of the return of Jesus from the temple with Mary and St. Joseph.
Murillo does not change his way of portraying saints with simple people, workers. His Virgin is a young, beautiful girl looking enthusiastically at her son. And St. Joseph is a pretty middle-aged man with a peaceful face. The picture evokes bright emotions, leaving a pleasant aesthetic finish.