Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (artist)|
Spanish, 1617 - 1682
Two Women at a Window, c. 1655/1660
oil on canvas
overall: 125.1 x 104.5 cm (49 1/4 x 41 1/8 in.) framed: 182.3 x 160.3 cm (71 3/4 x 63 1/8 in.)
Object 6 of 7
This may look like an innocent scene: a young woman peering from her window as her chaperone attempts to muffle a laugh with her shawl. And it may be just that, but it is also possible that something quite different is being depicted here. The earliest title given to this painting was Las Gallegas (The Galician Women). As contemporary viewers would have understood, Galicia, a poor province in northwestern Spain, was the homeland of most of Seville's courtesans and prostitutes. The younger woman's direct gaze, along with her low neckline and red flower, may beckon a customer -- or the viewer himself.
A tradition of Dutch moralizing pictures showed wayward young women with their procuresses. Murillo would certainly have seen such works in Spain. Many of his clients were Flemish and Dutch merchants living in Seville. Northern paintings, however, usually contained more overt indications of their subject -- the procuress was an older and more sinister figure, and other clues, such as animals associated with lust, might also be included. Murillo's painting remains a puzzle.
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