oil painting of man in oval frame with his hand breaking expected painting barrier

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Self-Portrait, ca. 1670
Oil on canvas
48 × 42 1/8 in. (122 × 107 cm)
The National Gallery, London; Bought, 1953
© The National Gallery, London


In this self-portrait, Murillo appears older, forlorn and weary. The painter was, at this point, a widower in his fifties with four children. The canvas is dedicated, in a Latin inscription, to his sons: “Bartolomé Murillo portraying himself to fulfill the wishes and prayers of his children.” To the left of the stone frame is a sheet of paper with a red chalk drawing, a wooden ruler, a compass, and a red chalkholder. On the opposite side are the painter’s brushes and palette. Surrounded by the tools of his trade, Murillo is presented as the important Sevillian artist that he was. The painter’s right hand protrudes from the fictive stone frame in a particularly original way. This trompe l’oeil motif was employed again by Murillo and by his followers.

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