The Latin inscription on the cartouche at the centre of the ledge explains that the self-portrait was made at the request of Murillo's children: 'Bart (olo) mé Murillo portraying himself to fulfil the wishes and prayers of his children - or sons'.

Despite the unlined appearance of the face the painting is probably relatively late in date, of the early 1670s, when Murillo's children would have been of an age to take pride in their father's achievements.

The composition is based on a formula that had been developed for portrait engravings used on the frontispiece of books. The sitter is shown in an oval frame and on the ledge below are the instruments of his profession, a palette and brushes on the right and a drawing and pencil on the left. The portrait was in Brussels the year of Murillo's death, 1682. It was imported to England in the early 18th century and inspired Hogarth's famous self portrait (London, Tate Gallery).

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1617 - 1682
Full title
Self Portrait
Date made
probably 1668-70
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
122 x 107 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1953
Inventory number
NG6153
Location in Gallery