MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban
(b. 1617, Sevilla, d. 1682, Sevilla)

Immaculate Conception

c. 1678
Oil on canvas, 274 x 190 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Murillo received a commission from the hospital of Venerable Sacerdotes for a significant group of paintings. This institution had been started by Justino de Neve in 1676 as an asylum for retired members of the clergy. Murillo was asked to paint three pictures soon after the construction was started. One of these proved to be his culminating version of the Virgin Immaculate, a glorious picture in which the last of the traditional attributes is eliminated except for the crescent moon, and the putti, flutter around the triumphant Virgin, some painted so thinly that they seem to dissolve into the fluffy clouds.

In 1813 the painting was taken to France by Marshal Soult. It was returned to the Prado in 1941.