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Immaculate Conception
Zurbarán, Francisco de
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Zurbarán, Francisco de

Fuente de Cantos, Badajoz (Spain), 1598 - Madrid (Spain), 1664

Zurbarán, Francisco de See author's file

Immaculate Conception

Ca. 1635. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

The Immaculate Conception was one of Zurbarán’s most frequent subjects, as it was particularly popular with institutional and private clients in Seville, as well as very compatible with his skills as a narrator. Despite the story’s compositional limitations, he managed to achieve a notable variety that helped him avoid repeating himself. Here, for example, he offers a narrative and compositional alternative to other Immaculate Conceptions from the early decades of his career, including one in the Prado and another at the Museum of Sigüenza, both of very high quality.

The Virgin Mary is presented as a girl dressed in white and blue and standing on the moon over a group of angels’ heads. She is surrounded by symbols of the litanies, which appear in the landscape below as well as among the clouds beside her. Many of these characteristics also appear in the Immaculate Conceptions mentioned above, but the narrative viewpoint of this work is different. In the pieces at the Prado and in Sigüenza, the Virgin’s hands are clasped and she squints her eyes and bows her head in an expression of intimate prayer. They are thus introspective, closed images. Here, however, she extends her arms and looks to the heavens. This more expansive attitude is also reflected by the fact that her robes and tunic are much more open than in the other pieces. That, in turn, more efficiently emphasizes her ascent, which would become an increasingly fundamental aspect of such depictions as the 17th century progressed, culminating in Murillo.

This painting also differs from other contemporaneous versions by Zurbarán in its clear delineation of three large fields of color: the white of Mary’s tunic, the blue of her robes and her golden surroundings. The three are extraordinarily harmonious, and they follow each other in a clear and uninterrupted manner, without the mixtures and interferences that modulate other versions. This confident handling of color fields is accompanied by an equally masterful use of a refined descriptive technique. For example, the folds in the clothing create an efficient sensation of space and volume.


Technical data

Inventory number
Zurbarán, Francisco de
Immaculate Conception
Ca. 1635
Height: 101 cm; Width: 77 cm
London, 1972; Collection of Plácido Arango Arias; Bequest of Plácido Arango Arias, 2015.

Bibliography +

Young, Eric, Una desconocida Inmaculada Concepción de Francisco de Zurbarán, Archivo español de arte, XLV/178, Madrid, 1972, pp. 161-66.

Gudiol, J.; Gállego, J., Zurbarán: 1598-1664, Ediciones Polígrafa, Barcelona, 1976, pp. n. 74.

Baticle, J. en: Serrera, J. M. (ed.), Zurbarán, Ministerio de Cultura: Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, Madrid, 1988, pp. n. 81.

Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Navarrete Prieto, B., Pintura española recuperada por el coleccionismo privado, Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla, Sevilla, 1996, pp. n. 31.

Delenda, Odile, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1598-1664. Catálogo razonado y crítico, I, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2009, pp. n. 43.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Plácido Arango Arias. Donación de 25 obras maestras de su colección de arte antiguo al Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. n. 11.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Francisco de Zurbarán. La Inmaculada Concepción, En: Donación de Plácido Arango Arias al Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 46-47 n.14.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Memoria de actividades 2015, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 48-49.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2906.

Exhibitions +

Special Display: Immaculate Conceptions
04.10.2016 - 26.02.2017

Update date: 13-01-2022 | Registry created on 24-08-2015

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