The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception



late 18th century
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General Description

According to Roman Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ, was conceived free of original sin, the condition of sinfulness and separation from God into which all humanity is born. The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin began appearing as a subject in art in 17th-century Spain, and from there it spread into the Spanish colonies of the New World.

The artist has adapted the vision of St. John, as expressed in Revelations 12:1:"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." The Virgin is flanked by her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, who hold branches representing the Tree of Jesse, the symbol of the Virgin's earthly forebears. Meanwhile, the tiny figures of Adam and Eve in the background allude to the fall of humanity from grace, thanks to temptation by Satan, indicated here by the seven-headed dragon at the bottom of the canvas. As the New Eve, however, born without sin and the mother of the savior of humanity, the Virgin triumphs over Satan, represented by her dominant position at the center of the canvas.

Excerpt from

  • William Keyse Rudolph, Label text, 2008.

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