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Title A Spanish Boy and a Dog
Collection English Heritage (Chiswick House)
Artist Attributed to after Murillo, Bartolomé Estebán (Spanish painter and draftsman, 1618-1682)
Date Earliest possibly about 1670
Date Latest possibly about 1682
Description Traditionally attributed to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682) this painting is more likely to be the work of an imitator of the great Spanish artist. An autograph drawing of the present composition is in the Stadelsches Kunsinstitut, Frankfurt (inv. no. 13656) suggesting that this painting may be after a lost original by the master. In the painting both the figure and the dog reveal a striking weakness of execution, lacking the compositional solidity and character-full expression that are consonant with Murillo's best work. However neither the dun colouring nor the generic background are unfamiliar to the master's work. The low-life subject of the painting handles a theme Murillo treated consistently throughout the last thirty years of his career: a street urchin sprawled on the ground, to the right, holds a stolen pie in one hand, while with the other he lowers a piece of it into his mouth drawing the hungry attention of the dog on the left. A similar relationship between a boy and a dog is seen in Murillo's genre masterpiece of 1662-72, The Pie Eaters, in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, which, as with the best of Murillo's autograph genre paintings, is rich in incidental detail and sharply lit to reveal the varied surface textures of materials and the bold chiaroscuro modelling the of figures: features that are notably absent from the Chiswick picture. Murillo's genre paintings were particularly popular in England throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century and were consequently much imitated.
Current Accession Number 88003074
Former Accession Number 146
Subject everyday life; figure; animal (dog)
Measurements 111.8 x 111.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased by the Department of the Environment for Chiswick House 1975.
Provenance 3rd Earl Burlington, Chiswick House, (where possibly in the Bed Chamber, then recorded in the Green Velvet Room by 1845); by descent to the Dukes of Devonshire; Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement sale Christie's, London, 31 October 1975, lot 77 as Murillo; where purchased by the Dept. of the Environment for Chiswick House, 1975.
Publications Faulkner, T., The History and Antiquities of Brentford, Ealing and Chiswick, London, 1845, p. 421, recorded in the Green Velvet Room at Chiswick House, as 'Spanish Boy - Murillo. A beggar boy reclining eating a snail pie. A capital picture, rich in colouring, and possesses all the expression for which his pictures are so justly admired. From his early youth, Murillo delighted in the delineation of familiar life; and more especially of those of peasants and beggar boys'.
Notes An autograph drawing of the present composition is in the Stadelsches Kunsinstitut, Frankfurt (inv. no. 13656; a photograph is in the Witt Library)
Rights Owner Copyright English Heritage
Author Francesco Nevola



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