Kimbell Renzo Piano Pavilion


Two Women at a Window

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Two Women at a Window
c. 1655–60
Oil on canvas
Private collection.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener
Collection, 1942.9.46

Kimbell Art Museum - Murillo: From Heaven to Earth,

Exhibition on Display: September 18, 2022 - January 29, 2023

The Kimbell Art Museum presents Murillo: From Heaven to Earth, a comprehensive exhibition of works by Spanish Golden Age painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682). The leading religious painter of Seville during his time, Murillo is primarily known for his depictions of the life of Christ, Christian saints, and other Biblical scenes, including monumental paintings of the Virgin in celestial glory. While Murillo: From Heaven to Earth includes a number of these religious paintings, its focus is instead on his earthly pictures of secular subjects and representations of everyday life in the 17th century, which constitute some of the artist’s most iconic pictures. Guillaume Kientz, director of the Hispanic Society Museum and Library in New York and former curator of European art at the Kimbell, serves as curator for the exhibition, which will be seen only at the Kimbell. On view from September 18 through January 29, 2023, the show will feature 50 paintings organized around concepts of youth and age, comedy, romance and seduction, compassion, narrative, and modern realism.

Murillo: From Heaven to Earth is the largest gathering of paintings in the United States by the artist since the Kimbell’s 2002 exhibition, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1617–1682: Paintings from American Collections, and expands the scope of the focused exhibitions on the artist’s portraits (Frick Collection, 2017) and the New Testament narrative of the Prodigal Son (Meadows Museum, 2022). The show is inspired by the Murillo masterpiece Four Figures on a Step, which was acquired by the Kimbell in 1984 and is one of the museum’s most compelling and enigmatic paintings. A rare work in Murillo’s oeuvre, the image depicts street life in Seville with an unsettling cast of characters. In contrast to his iconogr aphic works, Murillo’s intimate depictions of the poor and narratives of charity embody a culture—both visual and literary, stretching from Northern Europe to Spain—that would, for the first time in modern history, make the lower classes the main subjects of its pictorial narratives and written tales.

“Murillo’s depictions of everyday scenes are especially remarkable because they have no real precedent in Spain,” said Eric M. Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum. “The show hopes to shed new light on these paintings’ complex meanings, revealing their importance in their own time and suggesting their relevance in our own.”

This exhibition brings together some of Murillo’s most exceptional and unusual genre scenes from collections worldwide, including San Diego de Alcala and the Poor from the Real Academia in Madrid, the National Gallery of Art’s Two Women at a Window, and the Young Beggar, on loan from the Musée du Louvre, Paris. A number of religious scenes in which emphatic realism advances the Biblical narrative are included, among them the Marriage Feast at Cana from the Barber Institute, Birmingham, England. The exhibition will also feature another aspect of Murillo’s engagement with contemporary reality—the magnificent, and very worldly, portraits of Spanish clergymen, merchants, and aristocrats who went to the painter for a commemoration of their earthly success and power.

“While his predecessors achieved a revolution in grounding their art into reality via faithful observation and rendering, Murillo blurs the lines and challenges the boundaries between sacred and secular, earthly and heavenly,” says Guillaume Kientz.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue with essays and commentaries by leading scholars of Spanish art and culture: Guillaume Kientz, director of the Hispanic Society Museum and Library; Ronni Baer, Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Distinguished Curator and Lecturer in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University; Madeleine Haddon, teaching fellow at Edinburgh University; Fernando Loffredo, assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook U niversity; and Xavier F. Salomon, deputy director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at the Frick Collection, New York. The Kimbell is pleased to offer free admission to Murillo: From Heaven to Earth during its 50th anniversary week, from October 4 through October 9.


About the Collection

About the Collection

The Kimbell's permanent collection is small in size, comprising fewer than 350 works of art, and is distinguished by an extraordinary level of artistic quality and importance. The idea of building a choice collection of representative masterpieces was established by the Board of Directors of the Kimbell Art Foundation in consultation with Museum's first director, Richard F. (Ric) Brown, in a Policy Statement of June 1, 1966:

The dominating principle involved in the acquisition process is that the stature of the Museum depends more upon the quality of the definitive objects that it contains than on the historical completeness of its collections. A prospective addition to the collections, therefore, is to be judged from the standpoint of aesthetic quality and typicality, and whether it defines a master, period, school, style, or area. The goal shall be definitive excellence, not size of collection.

Leaving to older and larger institutions the role of collecting broadly and in depth, the Kimbell has continued to pursue quality over quantity. Its holdings range from the third millennium B.C. to the mid-20th century and include major works by Duccio, Fra Angelico, Caravaggio, Poussin, Velázquez, Bernini, Rembrandt, Goya, Monet, Cézanne, Picasso, Mondrian, and Matisse. The collection comprises Asian and non-Western as well as European art, and extends only to the mid-20th century in recognition that this is where the collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth begins, and omits American art since this is the focus of another neighboring institution, the Amon Carter Museum.

The Kimbell's select holdings of antiquities range from the Egyptian Old Kingdom of the third millennium B.C. through ancient Assyria, Greece, and Rome, and to the Early Christian Church in the fifth century.

European Art
The collection of European paintings and sculpture is remarkably rich in works of the Italian Renaissance, although its fullest and most celebrated holdings are in Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish works of the 17th century.

Asian Art
The Asian collection comprises sculptures, paintings, bronzes, ceramics, and works of decorative art from China, Korea, Japan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Precolumbian Art
Precolumbian art is represented by Maya works in ceramic, stone, shell, and jade; Olmec, Zapotec, and Aztec sculpture; and pieces from the Conte and Wari cultures.

African and Oceanic Art
The African collection consists primarily of bronze, wood, and terracotta sculpture from West and Central Africa, including examples from Nigeria, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Oceanic art is represented by a Maori figure.


About The Kimbell Art Museum

The Kimbell Art Museum, owned and operated by the Kimbell Art Foundation, is internationally renowned for both its collections and for its architecture. The Kimbell's collections range in period from antiquity to the 20th century and include European masterpieces by artists such as Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Poussin, Velázquez, Monet, Picasso and Matisse; important collections of Egyptian and classical antiquities; and Asian, Mesoamerican and African art.

The Museum's building, designed by the American architect Louis I. Kahn, is widely regarded as one of the outstanding architectural achievements of the modern era. A second building, designed by world-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, is scheduled to open November 27, 2013, and will provide space for special exhibitions, allowing the Kahn building to showcase the permanent collection.

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