Old Masters Evening Sale

Old Masters Evening Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 15. Mater Dolorosa | 《苦難聖母》.

Property from a Private Collection, Japan | 日本私人收藏

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Mater Dolorosa | 《苦難聖母》

Auction Closed

December 10, 06:47 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection, Japan


Bartolomé Esteban Murillo


Seville 1618 - 1682

Mater Dolorosa


oil on canvas


64.8 x 55.6 cm.; 25 1/2 x 21 7/8 in.

64.8 x 55.6 公分;25 ½ x 21 ⅞ 英寸

With Frost and Reed, London, by 1955;

From whom acquired by a private collector, UK;

Thence to a relative, by whom anonymously sold, London, Sotheby's, 9 December 1987, lot 41.

This sensitive and emotive portrayal of the young Mater Dolorosa, the Madonna in mourning, would most probably have been paired originally with a depiction of the Ecce Homo, Christ bound and crowned with thorns. Such pendants were extremely popular in Spain during the Counter-Reformation, and Murillo responded to a strong demand for the subjects with several iterations of the theme. The pendants were intended as devotional works designed to inspire a powerful spiritual response from the viewer, and Murillo's talent for the portrayal of convincing human emotions was perfectly suited to such subjects. Devoid of narrative context, the focus of this painting is found in the Madonna's upturned gaze and the tears that fall down her cheeks, her grief also evident in her supplicatory hands and the folds of her veil.

In other depictions of the Mater Dolorosa Murillo appears to have been influenced directly by Titian, whose version of the subject Murillo would very probably have seen on his visit to Madrid in 1658, at the Royal Palace of the Alcázar. The present canvas, however, portrays a younger, more vulnerable-looking Madonna, whose gesture and expression convey the fervour of her anguish in a manner typical of the Baroque.

A studio version of this painting was formerly in the Meadows Museum, Dallas, which was more recently sold at Christie's, New York, 28 January 2009, lot 298 (as studio of Murillo) and is now at Tyntesfield, National Trust, Bristol.1 There has been some confusion in the past as to whether the early provenance and literature related to that work in fact refers to the present painting instead.2 An engraving of the work by Johann Georg Weinhold is the basis on which W. Stirling-Maxwell and C.B. Curtis recorded that a work of this design belonged to Don Francisco Romero Balmaseda, Seville, by 1849, from whom it was acquired, in 1853, by William Gibbs, Tyntesfield, Somerset. Allowing for certain discrepancies in the print-making process, the engraving would, however, appear to follow the present painting more closely, particularly in details such as the crook in the little finger of the Madonna's left hand.3

We are grateful to Dr. Benito Navarrete Prieto for endorsing the attribution to Murillo on the basis of digital images.

1 https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/mater-dolorosa-100888

2 For the early provenance, literature and exhibited history of the other version, see: https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/studio-of-bartolome-esteban-murillo-seville-1618-1682-5175981-details.aspx

3 https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/object/278015