Bartolomé Esteban MURILLO (1617/18–1682)
Saint Justa (Santa Justa), c. 1665
Oil on canvas (óleo sobre lienzo)
Algur H. Meadows Collection, 72.04
Although Murillo had been trained in the sober, tenebristic manner characteristic of seventeenth- century Sevillian painting, the artist developed a new voice as he reached artistic maturity. Nurtured by a trip to Madrid in 1658, which brought him into direct contact with imported High Baroque traditions, he began to produce the freely painted, richly colored images for which he is known. These two devotional images, although smaller than the artist’s most famous compositions of the 1660s, exemplify the poetry and fluidity with which the artist could approach nearly any subject, whether religious or secular.
According to tradition, Justa and Rufina, the patron saints of Seville, were third-century pottery sellers who secretly practiced Christianity, a religion proscribed by the Roman emperor. Their refusal to sell their wares to pagans revealed the sisters as Christians, and when they persisted in their faith, they were executed. In reference to this, each sister holds ceramic vessels and a palm frond, a symbol of martyrdom.
El estilo de Murillo evolucionó desde un profundo realismo tenebrista de sus años de formación a otro más lumínico, caracterizado por una técnica vibrante, llena de colores empastados, aplicados con amplias y frescas pinceladas. Este último estilo se empieza a observar en la producción de Murillo realizada después de su viaje a Madrid de 1658, durante el cual pudo estudiar las obras del Alto Barroco flamenco y madrileño, que se conservaban en importantes colecciones de la corte. Estas dos pequeñas pero exquisitas pinturas son ejemplos de la maestría que el artista llegó a alcanzar. Murillo concibió obras de profunda y tierna religiosidad, a través de un estudio amable de la realidad sensible y un cromatismo refinado, cuyo carácter anticipa el arte del siglo XVIII, el del Rococó.
Según la tradición, Justa y Rufina, las santas patronas de Sevilla, vivieron en la ciudad durante el siglo III como hijas de un humilde ceramista. Cristianas clandestinas fueron denunciadas al prefecto Diogeniano, que las condenó a muerte al no abandonar su religión prohibida y no querer convertirse al paganismo imperante en la época. Cada hermana sujeta en la mano recipientes de cerámica y una palma, símbolos de su trabajo y martirio respectivamente.
The Meadows Museum’s collection includes some of the most important works of art in the world, and we take questions of provenance very seriously. Research undertaken by the Meadows Museum of the two Murillo paintings, Santa Justa and Santa Rufina, is ongoing, and as such, it would be premature to speculate on the outcome of that research. Thus far, research by external researchers associated with both Mr. Edsel and SMU have determined that the paintings were most likely restituted. The Meadows Museum continues to conduct provenance research on these paintings and all of the works in its collections, both independently and in collaboration with consultants in London and Paris, SMU and the Meadows Museum are confident that we will find the last piece of the puzzle with regard to the provenance of these paintings.
The Meadows Museum follows the guidelines established by both the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) with regard to works of art that changed hands in Continental Europe between 1933 and 1945, as is the case with Santa Justa and Santa Rufina. In accordance with these guidelines, the Meadows Museum has already published the provenance of the two paintings on its Web site, as well as listing the works on the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (www.nepip.org), which is managed by the AAM.
In the 38 years these paintings by Murillo have been in the Meadows Collection, almost continuously on view, widely published and frequently featured in exhibitions in Europe and the United States, no claimant has come forward. In the event that a claimant should come forward, the Meadows Museum would recommend that SMU continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the AAM and the AAMD with regard to claims of ownership, which state that “If a museum determines that an object in its collection was unlawfully appropriated during the Nazi era without subsequent restitution, the museum should seek to resolve the matter with the claimant in an equitable, appropriate, and mutually agreeable manner” (from the “American Association of Museums Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era”, 2001).
Previously Published Provenance
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