Recently Discovered Spanish Old Master Oil Painting of "St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus" at Auction in New Orleans on July 23

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A routine art appraisal recently surfaced a 17th C. oil painting from the School of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. It will be sold in New Orleans on July 23.

Rev. Canon A. Silva-White of St. Peter's Vicarage, Sunderland, England, once owned the painting.

A recently discovered and undocumented Old Master painting of "St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus" from the School of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo is coming to auction in New Orleans at Crescent City Auction Gallery on Saturday, July 23. The Baroque painting portrays St. Joseph as a young father and the baby Jesus as a toddler holding a branch of lilies.

According to David J. Goldberg - the appraiser who discovered the painting in a private collection in New Orleans, - the oil on canvas bears the characteristics of a 17th Century work of art. It is painted on a fine broad weave canvas, probably better than most of the period. The painting appears to have been relined and the support stretchers replaced sometime during the 19th Century. The overall size of the oil painting is 49 ¼" X 32" (124.46 cm X 81.28 cm).

Its provenance, as denoted by a label to the stretcher, is Rev. Canon A. Silva-White (possibly of Spanish heritage), St. Peter's Vicarage, Sunderland England. It is thought to have been de-accessioned circa 1968 and then purchased by a private collector before passing to the collection of a Mandeville, Louisiana collector in 1985.

"St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus" carries a conservative pre-sale estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.

The symbolism in the painting - a humble carpenter protective of his earthly son, with broken pillars in the background - resonates with clarity. It is precisely this simplicity in portraying sacred motifs that made Murillo's works sought after by royal families and wealthy collectors throughout Europe and England during the 17th and 18th Centuries.

An icon of Spanish baroque art, Murillo changed the way artists painted religious figures. His works are included in collections of i El Prado in Madrid, the Vatican Museum and many other museums throughout the world.

At the time, expertise in the Murillo style was so highly desired by other artists that, in 1660, Murillo helped found a school in Seville, Spain. He served as its first President while continuing to take private commissions. Paintings in all categories by Murillo are collected by museums, Queen Elizabeth's Royal Art Collection among them, and have sold at major auction houses.

From patron saint of carpenters to patron saint of fathers and the Universal Church - St. Joseph is an important figure in all the Christian faiths. St. Joseph's Day is celebrated by Anglicans, Lutherans and the Eastern Orthodox Church. It stands in as Father's Day in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

"St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus" is an appealing subject for private collectors, museums, churches and hospitals.

The Baroque Old Master painting is fittingly featured in a Crescent City Auction sale that contains property from the estate of John W. O'Keefe, Curator of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

"St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus" is on view at Crescent City Auction Galleries, 1015 Julia Street, New Orleans from Thursday, July 14 through Friday, July 22 between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. There will be a late evening preview on Wednesday, July 20 until 8:00 p.m.

The painting can also be viewed or online at

The auction will be conducted on Saturday, July 23, live and online at, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

For more information or a condition report, contact Adam Lambert at (504) 529-5057 or David Goldberg at (504) 282-7611 or by email at mortongoldberg(at)cox(dot)net.


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Regina Kolbe

David J. Goldberg
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