Virgin of the Immaculate Conception
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Oil on canvas (ca. 1670)
Murillo was one of Spain's greatest 17th-century painters, known for his atmospheric renderings of religious scenes. The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception is a later work painted in what is called Murillo's vaporous style. Here surface textures soften, and contours appear to dissolve in the shimmering atmosphere, lending a gentle, otherworldly aspect to the subject of the painting. A belief of the Latin Church for centuries, the Immaculate Conception holds that the Virgin Mary was conceived naturally in her mother's womb, but with immunity to Original Sin. As the second Eve and the mother of Christ, she was proclaimed to be spotless or "immaculate." The crescent moon on which the Virgin stands is the spiritual symbol of the Immaculate Conception.