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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Saint Augustine in Ecstasy

Saint Augustine in Ecstasy


Bartolomé Estebán Murillo

Spanish, Seville, 1617 - 1682

Direct experience of God is a common theme in 17th-century Spanish art. Here Saint Augustine, one of the Fathers of the Church, has put aside his bishop’s crozier and miter to kneel in prayer. Books, including his most famous work, The City of God, are strewn on the floor. His fervent contemplation is rewarded by the vision of a flaming heart, symbolic of religious fervor and God’s love, surrounded by a Latin inscription which translates “My heart is restless until it comes to you.” Murillo intimates intelligence, self-doubt, and humility in his portrait-like rendering of the saint. The design of the painting embodies Augustine’s description of his own earlier religious conversion as a passage from darkness into light.
Oil on canvas
76 1/2 x 55 in. (194.3 x 139.7 cm)
Gift of Richard and Elizabeth Hedreen, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: Sacristy of the Convent of Saint Augustine, Seville; Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult (d. 1851), Paris; George Tomline (d. 1889), Orwell Park, Ipswich, Suffolk; Ernest George Pretyman, Esq. (d. 1931), Orwell Park, Ipswich; [Christie's, London, 28 July 1933, lot 23]; with [Schaeffer Galleries, New York until late 1930s]; purchased by Bishop Thomas E. Molloy (d. 1956), Brooklyn, New York; bequeathed to Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, 1956; Christie's, New York, May 25, 2005; Richard and Betty Hedreen, Seattle; as gift to Seattle Art Museum, October 2008 (promised gift in March 2007)
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryLondon, England, The Royal Academy, 1910, no. 42.

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 1936-7, no. 98.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, permanent collection galleries, May 2007 - January 2013

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "European Masters: The Treasures of Seattle," February 14, 2013 - May 19, 2013

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A. Ponz, Viaje de España, Madrid, 1772-94, vol. 9, p. 137.

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R. Pérez, Madrid en 1808, Madrid, 1808, p. 117, no. 707.

F. Quilliet, 'Collection des Tableaux de S.A.S. Le Prince de la Paix Generalissime Grand Admiral', mss. 1 January 1808, Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid, Estado, L. 3.227, no. 1, GG, f. 1, 'Murillo St. Agustin magnifique'.

W. Buchanan, Memoirs of painting: with a chronological history of the importation of pictures by the great masters into England since the French Revolution, London, 1824, 1, p. 350, no. 8 of Appendix C.

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W. B. Scott, Murillo and the Spanish School of Painting, London, 1873, p. 105.

C.B. Curtis, Velázquez and Murillo, London, 1883, p. 218, no. 258.

J. Pérez de Guzmán, 'Inventario de Godoy hecho por Quilliet, 1808', España Moderna, 1906, p. 117.

A.L. Mayer, 'Two Unknown Paintings by Murillo', Apollo, 2, October 1925, p. 222.

A. Perera, 'Carlos IV, 'Mecenas' y coleccionista de obras de arte', Arte en España, 22, 1958, p. 25.

Catalogo (Museo del Prado), Madrid, 1972, p. 451, no. 980.

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I.-J. R. Wagner, 'Manuel Godoy, patrón de las artes y coleccionista', Ph.D. diss., Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1983, 2, pp. 288-91, no. 378, fig. 83.

C. Ishikawa et al, A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, 2007, pp. 178-179, illus.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. "A Restless Heart," A Community of Collectors, Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 2008, p. 179, illus. 151.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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