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Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda

Key facts
Full title Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda
Artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Artist dates 1617 - 1682
Date made 1667-70
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 237 × 261 cm
Acquisition credit Presented through the Art Fund in memory of W. Graham Robertson, 1950
Inventory number NG5931
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

This painting shows one of the seven acts of charity described in the Gospel of Matthew and was part of a series that Murillo painted for the church of the Hospital de la Caridad in Seville. The Caridad was a charitable brotherhood dedicated to helping the poor and sick of the city; Murillo himself was a member.

The pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem was periodically visited by an angel, and whoever first touched its water after this would be cured of illness. Christ went to the pool and heard a sick man complain that someone always stepped into the water before him.

Here, Christ invites the man to stand, curing him; their mirrored hand gestures capture the powerful connection between them. The man’s raised arms create an upward motion, as if he is being lifted from the ground by an invisible force – a visual evocation of the miracle taking place.

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