Murillo: Picturing the Prodigal Son

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Murillo: Picturing the Prodigal Son

20 February, 2022 to 12 June, 2022

Meadows Museum
5900 Bishop Blvd, Dallas, TX 75205

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During the 1660s, Sevillian artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo set out to paint the biblical parable of the prodigal son. Many artists tackling this subject focus on the story’s conclusion—that is, the prodigal son’s return from squandering his inheritance to be welcomed by his father’s forgiveness rather than his wrath. Murillo’s depiction, however, draws out the drama into a narrative cycle of six large canvases. Indeed, Murillo’s paintings represent the first time a Spanish artist painted the story in serial form.

Murillo skillfully embellished the narrative, conveying the story’s themes of virtue and vice, regret and forgiveness, through the figures’ dramatic gestures and facial expressions. Since 1987, the paintings have been in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.

In 2022, all six canvases will travel to the United States for the first time to be featured at the Meadows Museum, their only venue in this country. Marking the Meadows’s first collaboration with the National Gallery of Ireland, Picturing the Prodigal Son was inspired by the recent conservation work and the extensive technical analysis of the canvases carried out in Dublin, which has highlighted the beauty of Murillo’s technique and revealed new insights into his working method at a critical point in his career. The exhibition therefore marks a rare opportunity for American audiences to view an important painting series by Murillo in its entirety, just as it was created to be seen. As the largest repository of paintings by Murillo in the United States, the Meadows Museum is the ideal venue to exclusively present Murillo: Picturing the Prodigal Son.