The Healing of the Paralytic, by Murillo

by Isabella Childs January 07, 2021


         This is a moving painting of Christ healing the paralytic at the Pool of Bethsada, by Spanish Baroque artist, Murillo.

    The Savior stands in front of the paralytic in the left corner of the painting. Christ has pale skin, shoulder-length brown hair, and a beard. He wears a light purple robe and a dark purple cloak. His feet are bare. There are a few small, faint rays of light directly above the Savior’s head. Jesus looks down at the sick man, stretching His right hand towards the paralytic.

    The paralytic lies on a pallet atop some straw on the dirt ground. The sick man has pale skin, gray hair, and a beard. His chest is bare. A brown cloak is thrown over his waist and thighs, and he wears a light gray cloth wrapped around his head. The paralytic half raises himself, leaning against two gray bundles of cloth. He looks up at Christ with a suppliant expression on his face, holding each hand out slightly in Christ’s direction. On the ground, near the paralytic’s right hand, is a shallow gray bowl, a cracked pitcher, and a crutch.

    Three men stand directly behind Christ and the paralytic. The man immediately to Christ’s right has medium skin, thin gray hair on the sides of his head, and a thin beard. This man wears a deep yellow cloak wrapped around his body. He looks down at the paralytic, with his left hand at his chest and his right hand slightly extended towards the sick man. A younger man, with pale skin, brown shoulder-length hair, and a mustache, stands beside the man wearing the yellow cloak. This young man wears a deep red cloak wrapped around his body. Part of this man’s right hand is visible between the folds of his cloak. A third man peers down at the paralytic from behind the other two men. Behind the third man’s head, on the left side of the painting, is a white-gray stone pillar.

    In the right foreground of the image, near Christ’s left foot, is a large stone on the ground. A small dog with white and brown spots stands behind the rock. Only the  front part of the dog’s body is depicted in the painting. Directly behind the dog, on the right side of the painting, is a gray stone pillar. There is a large slab of gray stone on the ground at the base of the pillar. There is a red cloak atop the slab, and some straw and a small bundle on the ground in front of the slab. Beyond and to the left of this pillar and stone slab, two half-clothed men lean against a short stone wall and talk to each other. Across from these two men is part of the white stone porch in front of the pool of Bethsada. Three people, clothed in garments of various pastel colors, lie on the porch. Two men stand under the porch.

    The Pool of Bethsada is beyond the porch. The pool is square in shape; its water is a pale blue. The pool is surrounded by a white stone walkway, white stone buildings, and a row of white stone Roman arches. A few people stand in small groups and individually on the walkway beside the pool. One person stands, leaning on the rails above the Roman arches, and looking down at the pool.

    The small figure of an angel, depicted as a young man with a blue robe and white wings, is visible in the sky above the pool and the buildings. There is a yellow circle of light surrounding the angel. The rest of the sky in the background is a pale blue, with large, white-gray clouds spread across it.

    Download this digitally-restored image.

Isabella Childs
Isabella Childs


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