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Velázquez's "Santa Rufina" purchased by the Focus-Abengoa Foundation is on public display in Seville city hall

August 8, 2007

Seville, August 3, 2007. The work entitled “Santa Rufina” by Velázquez, purchased by the Focus-Abengoa Foundation at the Sotheby’s auction held in London on 4 July, can be visited in the lower arched gallery of the Seville consistory, where portable temperature and humidity meters have been installed to guarantee the optimum preservation of the work. The upper gallery window has also been covered in order to create the correct light conditions.

In several months time the work of art will become part of the future Velázquez Research Centre, the result of a collaboration agreement between Seville city council and the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, at the Foundation’s headquarters. The scientific project is currently underway and will include various works of art from Seville city hall, including “La casulla de San Ildefonso” also by Velázquez, as well as other Sevillian baroque masters. The project has two highly reputed scientific advisors, the art historian Benito Navarrete and the honorary director of the Prado Museum and member of the Royal Academy of History, Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez.

Visiting times
Monday to Friday: 10.00 am – 1.30 pm / 5.00 pm – 7.30 pm
Saturday: 10.00 am - 1.30 pm

Free entry

Santa Rufina. Diego Velázquez 1628-29.

The painting “Saint Rufina”, recovered for the city of Seville, has had an eventful history. Painted by Velázquez in 1628-29, soon after he arrived at the Spanish court, this work was probably commissioned by a Sevillian citizen living in Madrid, with the memory of his time in Seville still fresh and recent. The girl’s melancholic gaze clearly indicates that the painting is a “divine portrait” of someone close to him.

The canvas was once part of the collection of Don Luis Méndez de Haro y Guzmán, Marquis of Carpio (1598-1661), where “Saint Rufina” was described exactly as we see her today. It later appeared in an inventory of works associated with the House of Alba, and in the late 18th century it was listed among the artworks owned by Goya’s friend, the enlightened scholar Sebastián Martínez, in his palace in Cadiz. The work later graced several 19th-century collections where it was always identified as Velázquez’s “Saint Rufina”, until the Marquis of Salamanca acquired it for his Madrid collection and catalogued it as a representation of “Saint Clare”, although the description, dimensions and authorship all remained unchanged. In 1867 the painting left Spain and was auctioned off in Paris as part of the Salamanca collection to the first Earl of Dudley, who took the piece to the United Kingdom. It was subsequently sold on to several different owners, sometimes as a painting by Murillo, and travelled to Buenos Aires, New York and London. Now it has returned to Seville to stay, after completing its final journey, as part of the cultural heritage of all Andalusians.

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