Immaculate Conception (ca. 1675-1680) by Bartolomé Esteban MurilloMuseo de Arte de Ponce
This artwork is one of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo most important works from his mature state.
Murillo is considered one of the great Spanish painters from the seventeenth century. He worked in Seville, where he founded the academy of painters. His works were not only shown in Spain but also exhibited around the world like the Spanish colonies in America.
The painting depicts the immaculate conception: the idea/concept that the Virgin Mary was born without original sin.
Mary stands on top of a half-moon surrounded by small cherubs. She wears a white robe draped in a blue garment. In the background, golden and blue clouds surround the virgin's bright halo.
The bright halo of sunshine represents the Virgin Mary being clothed by the sun as described in the opening line of Revelation (12: 1-2).
The belief of the immaculate conception of was highly contested in the seventeen century Spain. However, Sevilla, Murillo’s hometown, was an avid defender of this belief.
She is surrounded by symbols representative of the Immaculate Conception: a lily, a mirror, a palm and three roses. Both the mirror and the lilies represent purity while the half-moon in which Mary stands symbolizes virginity.
The symbolism in Murillo’s painting helped expand the acceptance of the Immaculate Conception throughout Spain.