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

The Little Fruit Seller

Oil on canvas, 149 x 113 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

A little girl with the face of a Madonna, a contented little boy examining the earnings she holds in her hand and a basket full of grapes which is, in itself, a still-life of the highest quality. Does this painting show us a life free from worry?

The apparent poverty of the two figures, their unchild-like but necessary employment suggest a sense of hopelessness and misery. And yet these children seem to exude an air of rapt serenity and contented enjoyment of life. Herein lies Murillo's Christian message: because these children do not see their poverty as a burden, and because they do not regard their existence as joyless, they are beautiful and "dignified". It is thus a painting that could adorn the walls of any ruler's palace.