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The Immaculate Conception
Arco, Alonso del
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Arco, Alonso del

Madrid (Spain), 1635 - Madrid (Spain), 1704

See author's file

The Immaculate Conception

1683. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

Drawn from the Apocalypse of Saint john, The Immaculate Conception is a frequent iconic subject in Spanish painting. In Madrid, especially during the second half of the 17th century, it was so frequently depicted that a specific and characteristic approach was developed. Years before he painted the present work, Alonso del Arco made a canvas on the same subject for the Jesuit Church of Alcalá de Henares. This was a technically and compositionally simplified version of the Immaculate Conception that his teacher, Antonio de Pereda, had painted in 1657, which is now at the Hospital de la Venerable Orden Tercera in Madrid. The present work eschews that earlier depiction’s sense of balance and instead presents Mary as slender and supple, with an extended right arm. Her triangular face, large eyes, pronounced nose and small mouth all correspond to the model of femininity employed by this painter in all his works.

The Virgin stands out against the sun, which shines from behind her, although its rays barely reach the heads of the cherubs that surround the future Mother of God. Some small angels at her feet carry the attributes of the litany while another child angel in the foreground combats a snake that symbolizes evil. All of the figures are part of a play of crossing diagonals that add dynamism to the scene. The child angels are interpreted with light brushstrokes and are somewhat carelessly rendered in terms of both drawing and foreshortening. The figure of Mary, however, is much more elaborate and constitutes a clear example of this artist’s characteristically delicate gradations of color.

A period copy of this canvas, possibly from Del Arco’s workshop, is at the hermitage of El Cristo de la Vega in Toledo, and the Sola Collection in Cadiz also has a similar work. This painting on loan from the Museo del Prado to the Universidad Central de Barcelona by Royal Order of November 16, 1883 is listed in the catalog of the Museo de la Trinidad as having previously been in the monastery of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Toledo, although neither travelers nor treatise authors mention it there. On the other hand, Palomino, Ponz and Ceán all mention an Immaculate Conception by Alonso del Arco at the cloister of the monastery of Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid, and it was, indeed, there until 1813 (Text from Orihuela, M.: Pintores del Reinado de Carlos II , Museo del Prado, 1996, p. 84).

Technical data

Inventory number
Arco, Alonso del
The Immaculate Conception
Height: 168 cm; Width: 106 cm
Madrid, Convent of La Encarnación, popularly known as the Convent of Jesus of Medinaceli, or of the barefoot Trinitarians?; Museo de la Trinidad

Bibliography +

Cruzada Villaamil, Gregorio, Catálogo provisional, historial y razonado del Museo Nacional de Pinturas, Madrid, 1865, pp. 30.

Lafuente Ferrari, Enrique, Breve historia de la pintura española, Tecnos, Madrid, 1953, pp. 373.

Ars hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, Plus Ultra, Madrid, 1971, pp. 301.

Galindo, N., Alonso del Arco, Archivo español de arte y arqueología, 45, 1972, pp. 363.

Alcolea, Santiago, Pinturas de la Universidad de Barcelona.Catalogo, Universidad, Barcelona, 1980, pp. 112-113.

Espinós, A.; Orihuela, M. y Royo Villanova, M. [et al.], ''El Prado disperso''. Cuadros depositados en Barcelona. II. Universidad, Boletín del Museo del Prado, VII, 1986, pp. 131.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (II). Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991, pp. nº700.

Pintores del Reinado de Carlos II, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 84.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 700.
ESCUELA MADRILEÑA [...] ALONSO DEL ARCO. [...] 700. La Concepcion. / Lienzo. - Al. 1,69. - An. 1,06. - Fig. 1,10. / Firmado, Alonso del Arco, in. 1683. / La Purísima Concepción sobre un trono de ángeles. Perteneció al convento de Trinitarios descalzos de Toledo.

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 700.
700. / La purisima concepcion en un trono de angeles fig.s como de cinco cuartas y cuerpo entº/ autor Alonso del Arco/ alto 1,68 1/2 ancho 1,06 1/2./ Sin ni y en y sin marco/ Nº 18/ E.I.

Inscriptions +

Alonso del / Arco in / 1683
Signed and dated. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
11.04.1997 - 11.05.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
28.02.1997 - 06.04.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
24.01.1997 - 23.02.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
20.12.1996 - 19.01.1997

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
15.11.1996 - 15.12.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
11.10.1996 - 10.11.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
06.09.1996 - 06.10.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
17.05.1996 - 16.06.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
12.04.1996 - 12.05.1996

Pintores del reinado de Carlos II
29.02.1996 - 31.03.1996

Location +

Barcelona - Universidad de Barcelona (Deposit)

Displayed objects +

Attributes of the Virgin / Attributes of Mary

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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