MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban
(b. 1617, Sevilla, d. 1682, Sevilla)

Adoration of the Shepherds

Oil on canvas, 187 x 228 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Murillo, like Velázquez and Ribera, is one of the few Spanish artists with an international reputation. In his own lifetime Murillo's genre scenes were exported to Flanders, but much greater interest was aroused by his work in the early nineteenth century, when, following the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the agents of French and other collectors were able to acquire and export pictures by him of other types.

In this early painting the typical characteristics of the Seville school, by which he was formed, can be observed. There is an accent on clear detail, emphasized by the contrasts of light and shade. The rather high viewpoint creates the impression that one has just walked in on to the scene represented: such effects of intimacy and directness were typical of the aims of Counter-Reformation Baroque.