Murillo: The Self-Portraits

Murillo: The Self-Portraits

Murillo: The Self-Portraits is both the first, and only exhibition occurring in the United States, to mark the 400th anniversary of one of the most celebrated painters of the Spanish Golden Age.

On view at The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., NY, NY, Murillo: The Self-Portraits opened on November 1, 2017, and continues through February 4, 2018, after which it moves to London’s National Gallery from February 28 through May 21, 2018.

Murillo’s career was a successful one, and he painted canvases for the most important patrons and churches in Seville. Less familiar are a number of portraits, both full- and half-length, that Murillo painted of his patrons and friends. Biographers and scholars have paid little attention to this aspect of the artist’s career, and this is the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the subject.

Murillo: The Self-Portraits

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Two Women at a Window, ca. 1655–60, Oil on canvas, 49 1/4 × 41 1/8 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington; Widener Collection


Significantly, the painter’s only known self-portraits will be shown together for the first time since they were documented in the 1709 inventory of his son Gaspar’s art collection.

These two self-portraits—one recently given to The Frick Collection and the other from the National Gallery in London—will be shown with a group of other works by Murillo that will provide a larger context for these rare canvases. At the Frick, seventeen works, paintings as well as works on paper, will be presented in the intimate lower-level galleries.

Murillo: The Self-Portraits

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), Self-Portrait, ca. 1650–55, oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 30 1/2 in., The Frick Collection, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II; photograph by Michael Bodycomb


The earlier of the two self-portraits featured in the exhibition, shown above, was acquired in 1904 by Henry Clay Frick and remained in the Frick family until 2014, when Trustee Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II generously gave it to the museum.

Murillo’s face is surrounded by a trompe l’oeil stone frame, a hollowed-out block, chipped and eroded by time. The block, in turn, is propped on top of a stone ledge. This fictive frame is unique in concept and is not found in any other work by the painter or by his followers.

Within a few years of his wife’s death, in 1663, Murillo executed a second self-portrait, which he dedicated to his four teenage children.


Accompanying the exhibition is a richly illustrated publication that investigates the two self-portraits side by side, highlighting similarities and differences, and placing them in the context of the broader group of works in the show. In addition, the book discusses recent technical analysis, offering a better understanding of how the self-portraits were painted and providing a rare opportunity to compare how one of the most celebrated and influential European painters chose to represent himself at different stages of his life and career.

Murillo: The Self-Portraits

Published by Yale University Press in association with The Frick Collection, the book is available in the Museum Shop or can be ordered online.

Visit the website of The Frick Collection for more details on this exhibition and related events and videos at:

Here’s an introductory video to the exhibition:

Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at The Frick Collection, provides an introduction to the current exhibition, ‘Murillo: The Self-Portraits,’ on view at the Frick Collection from November 1, 2017 through February 4, 2018.


About The Frick Collection

Internationally recognized as a premier museum and research center, the Frick is known for its distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts.

The collection was assembled by the Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) and is housed in his former residence on Fifth Avenue. One of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions, it provides a tranquil environment for visitors to experience masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, and Whistler. The museum opened in 1935 and has continued to acquire works of art since Mr. Frick’s death.

Murillo: The Self-Portraits

View of past installation of Whistler paintings at The Frick Collection



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