The Spanish Golden Age painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo is thought to have painted this small oil sketch in 1673 as a preparatory study for his magnificent altarpiece The Virgin and Child in Glory.

The sketch and altarpiece were made for Ambrosio Ignacio Spínola y Guzmán, Archbishop of Seville. The altarpiece was presented to the Walker Art Gallery by the Art Fund in 1953 and remains a highlight of its collection. Murillo, who was born in Seville (or possibly nearby Pilas) in 1617, is widely regarded as one of the three greatest painters of 17th-century Spain, alongside Velázquez and Zurbarán. He was the nation's foremost painter of sacred art and The Virgin and Child in Glory was made to be the centrepiece of Spínola's private chapel. This sketch may have been made to gain the archbishop's approval for the finished work. The preparatory study is thought to have remained in the archbishop's palace until the late 18th century when it may have been moved to the Seville Academy. In the early 19th century it was acquired by the British art dealer William Buchanan and in 1838 it was sold to the banker Samuel Jones Loyd, along with fragments of the original altarpiece. Loyd later acquired the rest of the altarpiece and in 1861 the parts of the painting were reunited and restored. Both works remained in the Loyd family until the altarpiece was acquired by the Walker Art Gallery in 1953. The sketch comes from the estate of Christopher Loyd, who died in 2013. There are only 19 other preparatory sketches acknowledged to be by Murillo in existence, and the Walker will now become the only public gallery in the world where a study by the artist can be seen alongside the finished painting.

This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.

Provenance

Believed to have been created as the preparatory study for Virgin and Child in Glory altarpiece in the 17th century; thought to have been acquired by painter and art dealer Jean-Baptiste Pierre Lebrun in 1807; exported from Spain by 1824 when acquired by


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