- Museum number
The archangel Michael; whole-length, wearing a helmet and holding a sword in his right hand, holding a large cross in the other
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 268 millimetres
Width: 189 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Modified text from McDonald 2013
This is one of Murillo’s most striking figure studies made at a time when as a draughtsman he was at the height of his powers. The energy and confidence of the penmanship suggest a date around the mid 1650s. The rapid pen strokes that define the wings and the garments impart a sense of movement to the figure, whereas the delicate shading of the face draws attention to his studied and intense gaze.
No painting by Murillo relating to this drawing seems to have survived but a decade later, around 1665-66, Murillo executed a now lost painting of the archangel Michael for the high altar of the Capuchins in Seville. The drawing corresponds to a painting by a follower of Murillo in a private collection in La Paz (Bolivia) that Pérez Sánchez (1982) dates to the end of the seventeenth century, and believes it is close to the style of Juan Simón Gutiérrez (c.1645–1724). The differences between the drawing and the painting are minor and can be seen mainly in the different position of the garments. In the drawing, the saint’s chest is exposed, whereas in the painting it is covered. The La Paz painting seems to be a copy of a lost work by Murillo for which the British Museum drawing was a study. Considerable numbers of paintings were exported from Seville to the New World during the seventeenth century. Pious subjects, in particular those by successful artists like Murillo and Zurbarán, were the most popular.
D. Angulo Íñiguez, 'Algunos dibujos de Murillo', Archivo Español de Arte, 47, 1974, p.102, fig.7; J. Brown, 'Murillo and his drawings', Princeton, 1976, cat.no.10; A.E.Pérez Sánchez, 'Un San Miguel de escuela de Murillo y un dibujo de éste', Archivo Español de Arte, 1982, pp.303-305; Bartolomé Esteben Murillo: 1617-1682', exh.cat., Royal Academy London, 1983, cat.no.D4; A.E.Pérez Sánchez & B. Navarrete Prieto, 'Tres siglos de dibujo sevillano', exh.cat., Seville, 1995, cat.no.78; M. P. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain', exh.cat., British Museum, London 2012, p.49; M. P. McDonald, 'El trazo español en el British Museum: Dibujos del Renacimiento a Goya', exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2013, cat.no.34.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976 BM, Spanish Drawings (no cat)
1982 Oct-Dec, Madrid, Museo del Prado, 'Murillo', no. D4
1983 Jan-Mar, London, Royal Academy, 'Murillo', no. D4
1995/6 Nov-Feb, Seville, Hosp Venerables/Sacerdotes, Drawings in Seville, no.78
2012/13 Sept-Jan, London, British Museum, ‘Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain’
2013 March-June, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, ‘El trazo español en el British Museum …’
2013, Aug-Nov, Sydney, AGNSW, 'Renaissance to Goya'
2013-4, Dec-Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Modern Art, 'Renaissance to Goya'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number