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Saint Thomas of Villanueva Giving Alms to the Poor, 1665-1670

Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo
Spanish, 1617-1682
Oil on canvas
52-1/8 x 30 in. (132.4 x 76.2 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo imbued his many religious paintings with a simple piety and serene beauty. The artist’sconception and treatment of sacred themes, particularly his employment of a cool palette and feathery brushwork, attracted local and foreign patrons alike. Long before his canonization, the Augustinian friar St. Thomas de Villanueva (1488-1555), was venerated for his many acts of charity. This painting formed part of an altarpiece, representing scenes from the life of the Saint, commissioned by the Monastery of St. Augustin. Surviving pictures from this altarpiece include St. Thomas Healing the Cripple, Munich, Alte Pinakothek; The Youthful St. Thomas Distributing Alms, Cincinnati Art Museum; and St. Thomas Receiving the News of his Impending Death, Seville, Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes.

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