During the Spanish Baroque period, the iconography of St Peter was widely depicted by artists and this is one of several such scenes completed by the deeply religious Murillo.
The saint is shown praying while looking up to the sky after having denied Christ three times. His tearful face and evident pain have their origin in the representations of St Peter that emerged from the Council of Trent, serving as a reminder of the importance of repentance and penance for the salvation of sinners.
This Penitent St Peter is one of Murillo’s later versions of the subject and can be dated to c.1675. It reflects the influence of José de Ribera while possessing the soft and naturalistic qualities for which Murillo is known.
Measuring 4ft x 3ft 5in (1.2 x 1m) and coming to auction from a private collection in Valencia, it is estimated at €350,000-450,000.