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The Birth of St. John the Baptist, c. 1655

Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo
Spanish, 1617-1682
Oil on canvas
57-3/4 x 74-1/8 in. (146.7 x 188.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Murillo, a native of Seville, was a generation younger than Zurbarán and Velazquez. Immensely popular throughout Spain and Europe, he was often called the "Spanish Raphael" for his sweet, idealized Madonnas and the softness and delicacy of his modelling. The characters in this painting are portrayed naturalistically yet retain the ideal, innate grace and elegance that are consistent with Murillo's figures from the late 1640s on. His modeling is solid yet handled with a painterly touch. Although this work displays a strong chiaroscuro, the general effect is one of luminosity: the darks are not so opaque, the lights are strong and the colors are saturated.

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