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<em>Velázquez Centre</em>

Velázquez Centre

Focus Foundation

Diego Velázquez

(Seville, 1599 – Madrid, 1660)
Artist biography

The Immaculate Conception, c. 1617

Oil on canvas

142 x 98 cm.

Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla

The Immaculate Conception, c. 1617

This Immaculate Conception is a key work in the artistic workings conceived in the studio of the painter Francisco Pacheco at a fundamental point in the emergence of the naturalism painting of Seville between 1616 and 1618. Its appearance on the international art market in 1990 sparked lively debate about its attribution, which has verged between Alonso Cano and the young Velázquez, from the time when they were both apprentices in Pacheco’s studio. However, the latest technical studies by the Museo del Prado have shown that the richness and chromatic density of this work are directly linked with the earliest known definite works by Velázquez, such as the Immaculate Conception in the National Gallery in London or the Adoración de los Magos in the Museo del Prado, dated 1619.

In keeping with the iconographic guidelines set down by the painting style of his father-in-law and teacher, the artist depicts the Virgin as a young woman standing on a transparent globe symbolising the moon, suspended on a luminous mass of clouds, and before an almost nocturnal landscape in which the traditional Marian symbols can be made out. The artistic concept is, however, completely new, the result of a process of personal reflection and direct observation of nature and the real world. The layout of the forms and shapes, with clear and strongly-defined edges, and lifelike modelling of the face and hands, also help to attribute this work as one of the earliest paintings by the young Velázquez.

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