The Patrician telling his Dream to the Pope Liberio

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was a late 17th-century painter of the Seville school. His affable character, along with his hard work and skill, brought him a clientele that enabled him to live comfortably in Seville. He died when he accidently fell from a scaffold when painting an altarpiece in Cadiz. His works are mainly religious in theme, which is why he is also known as the “painter of Immaculate Conceptions”.

The Patrician’s Dream was painted for the church of Santa Mª la Blanca, as a commission from Justino de Neve, Murillo’s friend and patron. The artist shows us the dream of a gentleman and his wife to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream, with a request to build a church in her honour. The scene is set in an arched frame on which the floor plan and elevation of the building are shown. This gentleman’s dream is reminiscent of Ribera’s depiction of Jacob’s dream. The red colour stands out from the darkness of the scene, which is broken by the shaft of light accompanying the vision of the Virgin and Child, in true Murillo style. Near the gentleman, a book can be seen, and near his wife there is a detail that is often repeated in Murillo’s indoor scenes: a sewing basket. On the right we can see a snowy landscape that is a reference to the miracle in which it snowed in the middle of the month of August, the month when the feast of Our Lady of the Snows is celebrated.

This picture is also known as The Patrician’s Dream

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns