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Museo de Bellas Artes

Museo de Bellas Artes (4)

The Museo de Bellas Artes is considered the most important fine arts museum in all of Andalusia, and the second most important in Spain, at least with respect to paintings by Spanish artists. Founded as the Museo de Bellas Artes in September of 1835, it was officially inaugurated in 1841 and is in the Plaza del Museo, which is dominated by a sculpture dedicated to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

The building is erected on the site of the former Convent de la Merced Calzada, founded at the time by Saint Pedro Nolasco. Following remodelling during the 17th century by architect and sculptor Juan de Oviedo, construction of this building began, transforming it into the building we see today.

The building is arranged around three large courtyards, decorated with flowers, trees and tiles, with the church at one end. The entrance to the church is through the original access to the convent. 

Among the arrangement’s architectural elements, pay special attention to the splendid church dome, painted in the 18th century by Domingo Martínez. You should also spend time in the large cloisters, remodelled by architect Leonardo de Figueroa in 1724. 

You will find signs in the museum that lead you through the 14 galleries, laid out in two large wings. On one side, you’ll find important 19th century paintings, including a few works by Gonzalo de Bilbao. And on the other is a wing dedicated to classical paintings, such as Sevillian School works from the 17th century, the true gems of the museum. Most of the work that you will see here are the creations of important artists such as Zurbarán, Murillo and Juán Valdés Leal.

There is so much beautiful art to be seen, but a few highlights are San Hugo en el refectorio, by Zurbarán, which shows the Carthusian order’s renunciation of eating meat. Also note the La Virgen de la servilleta, by Murillo. This virgin mother with child is one of the artist’s most important works, and it is famous because it is said that he painted it directly on a napkin. 

Also keep in mind that even though the most important treasures in this museum reside in its painting collection, you will find interesting exhibits of furniture, ivory,  ceramic works and sculptures. 

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