Special thanks to the Microsoft Corporation for permission to use following biographical information from Microsoft® Encarta '97:
Bartolomé Estéban Murillo was a Spanish painter of religious and secular subjects, born in Seville.
In the private collections of Seville, he was able to study the works of the major Renaissance and baroque masters of Italy and Flanders, as well as his Spanish precursors; these paintings profoundly influenced his art. His early works, depictions of the Madonna and of the Holy Family, were dry in character, but he soon developed a warm, atmospheric quality in his painting, executing in 1645-46 11 scenes from the lives of various saints that established his fame. Murillo was the first president of the Seville Academy, founded in 1660.
He excelled in genre painting, depicting poverty-stricken children in a pathetic and touching manner, as in Young Beggar (1645-55, Musée du Louvre, Paris). From 1671 to 1674 he painted several pictures for the Church of the Confraternity de la Caridad, Seville, many now dispersed to museums in Saint Petersburg, Madrid, and London. Murillo's works prefigure the development of European and especially Spanish painting in the 18th and 19th centuries. He portrayed Madonnas as beautiful women, and saints as likable Spanish characters, anticipating the elements of audacious realism that characterized 18th-century religious art. He died April 3, 1682, in Seville. During the 19th century Murillo's genre paintings won wide acceptance and influenced many painters of that period.