self portrait painting of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo in an oval frame

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682)
Self-Portrait, ca. 1650–55
Oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 30 1/2 in. (107 x 77.5 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II (2014.1.01)

The Frick Collection has showcased its strength in Spanish paintings through acclaimed exhibitions, publications, and events on Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya, and the collecting taste for such works. The focus is warranted, given founder Henry Clay Frick’s early travels to Spain and his deep interest in Spanish artists. Less known, however, is the fact that his first acquisition of Iberian painting was a significant self-portrait by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–82), a work that has remained in the Frick family since its purchase in 1904. The painting enters the collection as the gift of Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II and the late Dr. Henry Clay Frick II and is on view in the South Hall. Comments Director Ian Wardropper, “We are pleased to share with the public this work by Murillo, a major baroque artist who has not been represented in our holdings despite his significance in the canon of Spanish painting. Our permanent collection continuously evolves―sometimes through gifts, sometimes through purchase ― and this growth has occurred over the decades within every media purchased by Henry Clay Frick, each addition amplifying our understanding of various schools and artists. With this very significant acquisition, we are eager to consider our Spanish paintings again in a new light and through fresh scholarship.” Added Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon, “It is wonderful to see this Murillo join the eight masterpieces of Spanish painting already at the Frick. This unique work is one of the most important examples in the United States by the artist and is the only self-portrait by him in this country. It is one of only two self-portraits that Murillo painted, in fact, the other being at the National Gallery in London. This acquisition will beautifully co-exist with our notable body of Spanish painting in terms of it aesthetic qualities, importance, and provenance, and we keenly anticipate sharing it with public.”