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The Immaculate Conception
Valdés Leal, Juan de
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Valdés Leal, Juan de

Sevilla (Spain), 1622 - Sevilla (Spain), 1690

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The Immaculate Conception

1682. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

The Virgin Mary stands on the Moon, surrounded by clouds in an image that varies from the predominant approach to representations of the Immaculate Conception in Seville. Most such works emphasize dynamism, seeking immediately legible formulas and triumphal contents, but here, Valdés Leal proposes a more meditative approach through a more complex presentation. Mary’s ascent to heaven is not triumphant here. Instead, her robes, her body language and her facial expression are imbued with intimacy and absorption. Much the same occurs with the child angels. Rather than flittering around her, they surround her in a tranquil and devout fashion, carrying branches and flowers, including roses, lilies, a wheat spear, an olive branch and a palm leaf, all of which are the Virgin’s iconographic attributes. At the lower right of the composition, two angels hold up a mirror as if it were a monstrance, and the Christ Child’s reflection is visible on its surface. His image is produced by a ray of light that shines down from the Throne of Wisdom and seems to shine directly through the Virgin’s body. The presence of the Dove and of God the Father, who leans solicitously towards Mary, completes the representation of the Holy Trinity and reminds us of some of the virtues associated with the Virgin. Valdés Leal’s use of color to order this discourse is splendid. Mary’s delicate and solid body plays a leading chromatic and formal role and her self-absorbed expression sets the mood of the entire composition. The angels, and most of all, the Holy Trinity, constitute a more ethereal atmosphere around her, and both the orange tones in the heavens and the blue sky blur the forms so that they do not detract from the Virgin’s central role. This work from Valdés Leal’s last decade of life not only enriches the view of this artist’s oeuvre at the Museo del Prado, it also furnishes a point of comparison with paintings on the same subject that Murillo was painting shortly before.

Technical data

Inventory number
Valdés Leal, Juan de
The Immaculate Conception
Height: 206.5 cm; Width: 144 cm
Collection of the Duke of Osuna, Sevilla; José Pintado, Sevilla; Von Loga, Amsterdam; Gottschewsky, Hamburg; Schaeffer Gallery, New York; Meadows Museum, Dallas, 1990; Collection of Plácido Arango Arias; Bequest of Plácido Arango Arias, 2015.

Bibliography +

Jordan, W. B., The Meadows Museum. A Visitor's Guide To the Collection, The Meadows Museum, Dallas, 1974, pp. 104.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Juan de Valdés Leal, Guadalquivir, Sevilla, 1988, pp. 267.

Stratton, Suzanne, La Inmaculada Concepción en el arte español, Cuadernos de arte e iconografía, I/2, 1988, pp. 113-14.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Valdés Leal, Museo del Prado; Junta de Andalucía, Madrid, 1991, pp. 256.

Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Navarrete Prieto, B., Pintura española recuperada por el coleccionismo privado, Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla, Sevilla, 1996, pp. 152.

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. 16.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Juan de Valdés Leal. La Inmaculada Concepción, En: Donación de Plácido Arango Arias al Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 50-51 n.16.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Memoria de actividades 2015, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. 56-57.

Other inventories +

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

Inscriptions +

Dated. Front

Exhibitions +

Special Display: Immaculate Conceptions
04.10.2016 - 26.02.2017

Displayed objects +

Attributes of the Virgin / Attributes of Mary

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

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