ZURBARÁN, Francisco de
(b. 1598, Fuente de Cantos, d. 1664, Madrid)

The Immaculate Conception

Oil on canvas, 136,5 x 102,5 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The Immaculate Conception (in Spanish: Purisima) was a favourite subject in seventeenth-century Spanish painting. In these pictures Mary is usually represented as a child or as a young girl, her eyes turned heavenwards, personifying innocence and childlike devotion and rising amidst clouds and cherubs to heaven. Murillo painted innumerable versions of this theme, which also engaged the attention of Zurbarán.

This painting is a late work of Zurbarán. The Virgin is a slender, delicate young girl with an exquisite oval face and golden hair falling to her shoulders, a vision in white and ultramarine seen against a golden sky peopled with cherubs. Though lacking in vigour, this late work has all the painterly qualities and expressive beauty of the great monumental paintings of Zurbarán's early period. There is a similar Immaculate Conception in the church of Langon near Bordeaux.