Colnaghi Foundation Journal 03 - Page 159



156
157
Scientific intervention in two major Murillo canvases
Scientific intervention in two major Murillo canvases
AUXI LIADORA GÓMEZ MORÓN / RO CÍO MAGDALENO GRANJA /
ARAC ELI MONTERO MOR ENO / LOU R DES N ÚÑEZ CASAR ES
INSTITUTO ANDALUZ DEL PATRIMONIO HISTÓRICO. CONSEJERÍA DE CULTURA, JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA.
BACKGROUND
The year 2018, designated the Año Murillo, marks
the fourth centenary of the great Baroque painter
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. To celebrate this
anniversary, a series of cultural events relating to
the artist were organized over the course of the
year. This programme included a project for the
conservation of two major canvases, The Miracle of
the Loaves and Fishes and Moses and the Water from the
Rock of Horeb (figs. 1 & 2). The conservation project
was made possible through the Agreement of
Collaboration for technical, scientific, and cultural
activities and interventions, signed by three partners:
the Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico1 de la
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía, La
Caixa Fundación Bancaria, and La Humilde y Real
Hermandad de la Santa Caridad de Nuestro Señor
Jesucristo.
Fig. 1 and overleaf /
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,
The Miracle of the Loaves
and Fishes, 1670-1674, oil on
canvas, 240 x 579 cm, Seville,
church of San Jorge, Hospital
de la Santa Caridad.
Fig. 2 and on page 160 /
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,
Moses and the Water from
the Rock of Horeb, 1670-1674,
oil on canvas, 240 x 579 cm,
Seville, church of San Jorge,
Hospital de la Santa Caridad.
All activities and interventions were aimed at the
integrated management of the conservation project
itself, combined with outreach work intended to make
the restored pictures more accessible to the general
public through open workshops, educational workshops,
talks, training and temporary exhibitions.
DESCRIPTION
Murillo’s canvases are housed in one of the most
important buildings in Seville, the church of San
Jorge and the Hospital de la Santa Caridad. Miguel
de Mañara Vicentelo de Leca (1627-1679), President
of the brotherhood of the Santa Caridad from 1663,
commissioned a decorative programme to be carried
out by prominent artists, expressing contemporary
Baroque spirituality and illustrating the actions of
mercy carried out by the Hospital.
The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes and Moses and the Water
from the Rock of Horeb 2 belong to the set of six canvases
painted by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo between 1670
and 1674. These draw partly on six of the seven Works
of Mercy laid out in the moralizing treaty Discurso de
la Verdad, written by Miguel de Mañara, who was an
important reformer of the fraternity. They represent
the acts of “giving food to the hungry” and “giving
drink to the thirsty”, and are the only remaining
original canvases of this series preserved in situ; the rest,
having been taken to France during the Napoleonic
invasion, were subsequently replaced by copies.
CULTURAL VALUE. SAFEGUARDING
In recognition of the cultural value of the two canvases,
the Consejo de Gobierno de la Junta de Andalucía
(the Governing Council of the Andalusian Regional
Executive) declared them a ‘BIC’ (Bien de Interés
Cultural, or item of cultural value).3 Since 2007 they
have been included in the Catálogo General del
Patrimonio Histórico Andaluz, coming under the
protection of the Junta de Andalucía, and identified as
requiring conservation treatment. The project not only
recognized the cultural value of the canvases, but was
explicitly directed towards safeguarding those and other
values specified by the project development team.
Among the values identified as necessary to take into
consideration during the conservation treatment were
the age, meaning, and original aesthetic of the works,
whilst protecting their outstanding artistic quality.

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