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The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial
Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban
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Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban

Sevilla, 1617 - Sevilla, 1682

Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban See author's file

The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial

1660 - 1665. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

In this personification of the Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception, the protagonist, although still very youthful, is not as childlike as those of Zurbarán and Velázquez and lacks the descriptive and symbolic elements commonly found in earlier, undoubtedly archaic versions. Allusions to the litanies are omitted and artist reduces the image to the bare essentials: the young and splendorous virginal woman, the most pure in devotional terminology, who stands on the crescent and rises to heaven surrounded by child angels, immersed in an atmosphere of clouds and resplendent light. In this work, in which the theme of the Conception is merged with that of her Assumption, the message is fully direct and therefore very efficient: it is the purest expression of the glory of the Virgin. Murillo succeeded in finding not only the manner of representing the Immaculate Conception that was best adapted to the expectations of Baroque society but also the most perfect Marian image for which people hoped, making her a symbol that has been absolutely valid for Christianity since then to this day. It should not be forgotten that when Murillo started painting his marvellous Immaculate Conception images, a cult had already been gaining strength in Spain for a century and a half and went on to attain an extraordinary vigour and ended up becoming one of the main features of the Spanish and Christian collective identity. This is the cult of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, mother of God, whose devoted supporters argued that her parents Saint Joaquim and Saint Anne conceived their Daughter without the physical contact that is required to engender other mortals. It is a genuinely local theme in that Spain was the main kingdom to defend the mystery and fought most determinedly to persuade popes and the Church in general to convert it into a dogma of faith. For two centuries it was a peculiar sort of "dogma of private usage" of Spaniards, who had to swear an oath of their faith in the Immaculate Conception in order to belong to certain professional or municipal corporations. It was not established as a dogma in the rest of the Catholic world until the 19th century, by Pope Pius IX (185). Two themes explain the matchless popularity enjoyed by the Immaculate Conception during the 17th century: collective pride and Marian devotion. The result was an extraordinary surge of activity aimed at praising and glorifying the Conception in all spheres of literary and artistic creation. Poets and playwrights, as well as sculptors and painters, precious metalsmiths and engravers disseminated the image of the Immaculate Conception. An indication of the popularity of this cult is the numerous public feasts held in her honour in which the local population were involved as spectators or participants. In these celebrations all forms of expression from drama and poetry to painting and architecture to music, temporary installations and ceremonial combined to spread a unique message of exaltation of the Immaculate Conception. Painters had long striven to achieve a representation of the Immaculate Conception which expressed the full force of the popular fervour that the mystery aroused. However, only one succeeded in finding a formula for expressing in a single image all the expectations, hopes and yearnings of that society which had converted the Immaculate Conception into an identifying feature in which it recognised what it considered its best qualities. That painter, who is universally acclaimed for his skill, was Murillo, who produced some 20 versions of the theme during his lifetime, this one being one of the most striking and moving. The origin of this painting is completely unknown. It is believed to have been purchased in Seville by Charles III, who would have incorporated it into the Royal Collections (Text drawn from Luna, J. J.: From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, pp. 358-359).


Technical data

Related artworks

The Immaculate Conception
Etching, Aquatint on laid paper, 1874
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Inmaculada Concepción de El Escorial
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Inventory number
Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban
The Immaculate Conception of El Escorial
1660 - 1665
Height: 206 cm; Width: 144 cm
Royal Collection (Royal Palace, Madrid, "habitación del infante don Carlos-sexta pieza", 1814-1818, no. 1001?).

Bibliography +

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Mayer, August L., Murillo. L'Oeuvre du Maitre, Hachette, París, 1913.

Tormo, Elías, La Inmaculada y el arte español, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, 22, 1914, pp. 174.

Loga, Valerian von, Die Malerei in Spanien: vom XIV. bis XVIII. Jahrhundert, G. Grote'sche verlagsBuchhandlung, Berlin, 1923, pp. 343.

Beroqui, Pedro, Apuntes para la historia del Museo del Prado, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, 38, 1930, pp. 196.

Trens, Manuel, María: iconografía de la Virgen en el arte español, Plus-Ultra, Madrid, 1946, pp. 189/ lám.112.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

La peinture espagnole du siècle d'or: de Greco a Velazquez, Association Française d'Action Artistique, París, 1976, pp. nº33.

The Golden Age of Spanish Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, Londres, 1976, pp. nº63.

Lassaigne, Jacques, La Grande Histoire de la Peinture. Vol. I. L'Europe Gothique, Skira, París, 1979, pp. 63.

Esteban, Claude, Tout L'Oeuvre Peint de Murillo, Flammarion, Paris, 1980, pp. nº70.

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Murillo, II, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1981, pp. 121.

Cañedo-Arguelles, Cristina, Arte y teoría: la contrarreforma y España, Universidad, Arte-Musicología Servicio de Publica, Oviedo, 1982, pp. lám.20.

Mena, M, 'Immaculate Conception of The Escorial' En:, Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), Royal Academy of Arts, Londres, 1982, pp. 104, 172 nº 31.

Mena, Manuela, 'Inmaculada Concepción de El Escorial' En:, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: (1617-1682)., Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas Artes., Madrid, 1982, pp. 166-167 nº 31.

Calvo Castellón, Antonio, Los fondos arquitectónicos y el paisaje en la pintura barroca andaluza, Diputación Provincial, Departamento de Historia de Arte, Granada, 1982, pp. 134.

Ayala Mallory, Nina, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1983, pp. 43,46,65/ lám.5.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 449.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., Da el Greco a Goya: i secoli d'oro della pittura spagnola, Electa, Milán, 1986, pp. 60.

Menendez Pidal, Ramón, Historia de España.Vol.XXVI.El Siglo del Quijote.1.Religion,..., Espasa: Calpe, Madrid, 1986, pp. 725/ lám.302.

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Valdivieso, Enrique, Murillo Sombras de la Tierra, Luces del Cielo, Silex, Madrid, 1991, pp. 209.

Réau, Louis1881-1961, Iconografía del arte cristiano, Serbal, Barcelona, 1996, pp. 83.

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Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. ¿1001?.
Habitacion del Señor Infante Don Carlos [...] Sexta pieza [...] {21871} 1001 / dos varas y media alto dos menos tercia ancho Nra. Sra. de la Concepcion con varios angeles que tienen la palma y la azucena

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 229.
Murillo. / 229. La Purísima Concepción. / Esta la virgen entre unos hermosos angeles que llevan los simbolos de este santo misterio (C.L.) / alto 7 pies, 4 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 5 pies, 2 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 229.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 878.
878.-La Concepcion. / Alto 2,06. Ancho 1,44.-Lienzo. / Aparece en medio del cuadro la imágen de la Vírgen / Santísima, de 13 á 14 años de edad, en pié sobre un / trono de deshechas nubes, vista de frente, con las ma- / nos juntas delante del pecho, y elevada un tanto la ca- / beza como en arrobamiento. Está vestida con túnica / blanca y manto azul rozagante de rico ultramar, que / recogido sobre el brazo izquierdo, baja por la espalda y / flota al viento. Enriquecen su trono de nubes cuatro / hermosos ángeles niños, que ostentan vástagos de azu- / cenas, rosas, palma y olivo, símbolos o...

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Americans in Spain
11.06.2021 - 03.10.2021

Americans in Spain
Norfolk VA
12.02.2021 - 16.05.2021

Murillo IV Centenario
29.11.2018 - 17.03.2019

On Tour through Spain
26.11.2018 - 08.12.2019

El Arte de las Naciones. El Barroco como arte global
18.10.2016 - 20.02.2017

Il Potere e la Grazia. I Santi Patroni dell´Europa
07.10.2009 - 31.01.2010

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

27.04.2005 - 12.10.2005

Obras maestras de la Pintura Española: del Siglo de Oro a Goya
14.06.1989 - 24.09.1989

Displayed objects +

Palm leaf: Portada por un ángel

Attributes of the Virgin / Attributes of Mary

Update date: 06-07-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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