Murillo's career is tied to Seville, the city where he lived and died. He was born in 1617, left an orphan at the age of ten, and raised by his older sister and her husband. His earlier training seems to have occurred in the workshop of Juan del Castillo, a distant relation and well-established local painter.
In 1645, Murillo received his first known commission from one of the many local religious institutions of Seville, which were to be the mainstay of his career. During the 1650s Murillo's fame increased rapidly, and he was employed to make paintings for the Seville Cathedral, which established his preeminent position among the local painters. In 1658, Murillo made a trip to Madrid, which completed the evolution of his style to its characteristic sfumato manner.
In the succeeding decade, the arist received one important commission after another, with several churches giving him large cycles of paintings to execute. In addition, he received numerous commissions from individuals, some of whom formed sizable collections of his work. A significant part of his clientele was comprised of Dutch and Flemish merchants in Seville, for whom he painted a small but highly original group of genre scenes.
In the 1670s, Murillo found patrons in Cadiz, which was rising in importance as a center of commerce and trade. He was working on a series of paintings for the Capuchins of Cadiz when he died in 1682.
[Brown, Jonathan, and Richard G. Mann. Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1990: 105.]
Angulo Iñiguez, Diego. Murillo: Su vida, su arte, su obra. 3 vols. Madrid, 1981.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1617-1682. Exh. cat. Prado, Madrid; Royal Academy of Arts, London. London, 1982.
Brown, Jonathan, and Richard G. Mann. Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1990: 105.