Arts of Europe

Murillo


Christ after the Flagellation, ca. 1670
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Spain, 1616–1682)
Oil on canvas
50 1/4 x 57 1/2 inches
Gift of Ellnora D. Krannert 1960-4-1

Given that Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was esteemed in seventeenth-century Europe, it is puzzling that his international reputation faded with relative rapidity. At the court in Madrid, he was overshadowed by Diego Velázquez, though in his own city of Seville he was much admired for paintings such as Christ after the Flagellation. This work dates to the beginning of an important late period in the artist's career, which came to a close when he fell from a scaffold in his mid-sixties. During this stage, Murillo used fewer and fewer colors, and the ones he chose were soft and subtle. Here, he depicts the tortured body of Christ with delicate touches of faint color and gradations of tone and light; the marks of the whips are minimized and the figure, though constrained by pain, collects his garments with dignity. The understated manner in which Murillo treats this potentially dramatic scene is sometimes taken by critics as sentimentality.

Text by Sister Wendy Beckett, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008