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Critique of the Immaculate Conception Painting

By full name of the artist

Name of the Gallery

Date visited














Name: Immaculate Conception

Medium: Oil

Date: 1960

Artist: Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Patron: Museo Nacional del Prado

The painting, Immaculate Conception is one of the most appreciated artworks of Bartolome Murillo. The painting represents one of the religious controversies of the 18th century. It illustrates his skills of using oeuvre technique (Figueroa, et al 238). The painting got opposition from the church until 1854 when it was officially accepted as one of the doctrines of religious practice.

The iconography of the painting made it difficult for the artists to agree upon. The uses and incorporation of the painting to the religious activities was inspired by the religious reformations of the 17th century: In fact, the story of Virgin Mary inspired the use of the painting. Consequently, the change of perception made the painting to be the standard iconography of the future painters.

Compositional Analysis


All the artworks of Murillo of the Immaculate Conception assumes the same pose. In the painting, Virgin Mary is clearly poised towards the moon in order to show chances of purity.

The Sitting Order of the Sculpture

The formal analysis of Immaculate Conception Painting focuses on the texture, the color, the shape and the general appearance of the sculpture (Diamantides np). What the posture assumes by Immaculate Conception is derived from the pyramid images that represented the sitting Virgin Mary. The placement of the body on the chair creates a distance between the image or the seater and the viewer. The surrounding of the children connects the humbleness of the Virgin Mary to the role she played as recorded in the Bible.

The Sculpture’s Background

The sitting and portrait landscape is aerial in appearance. It has smoky blues without a vanishing point. The appearance gives the composition of the image a significant depth. The surreal atmosphere of the picture is maintained through the imbalance between the flatlands on the left side and the horizon on the right side.

Composition and Texture of the sculpture

The appearance of the sculpture communicates a lot of information. The face of the Virgin Mary lacks eyebrows and eyelashes. However, many scholars argue that this may not be a deliberate act of the sculptor (Figueroa, et al 248). The colors that could show the eyebrows may have faded or removed during the cleaning process.

The sculpture when viewed from the front view, there is harmony between the image and the landscape. However, there are two contradicting backgrounds, an imaginary and a civilized landscape. Mary is wearing plain cloths which are marked differently from other costumes. She wears a simple dress that exposes her chest. Her hair has been likened to a mourning veil because of its messy nature.

Color Palette

As other paintings that are exposed to the environment, the image of the Virgin Mary today appears differently. The sculpture has assumed a mixture of yellow and brown colors. It is believed that the sculpture has been darkened because of numerous painting that has erased the original color (Diamantides np). Therefore, it is clear that the original painting of the sculpture was more colorful and vibrant than it is now.

Use of Technique

In the artwork, Murillo uses Sfumato technique. Sfumato is a renaissance technique where the sharp ends are colored with blended colors. The painting creates a shadow to the edges of the mouth and the eyes in shadow. The coloring adds complications to the Virgin Mary’s expression. Murillo also employs the aerial perspective technique. Aerial perspective implies that the sculptor makes the background of the picture to look clearer than the foreground (Canono, et al 66). Most of the artworks of Murillo have been attributed to this technique making them look hazier than other paintings.

Materials Used

The Immaculate Conception is painted on a wooden panel that is cut from a single piece of wood. The wood is thought to be of an extremely high-quality wood. The image is enclosed in an Oak frame that helps to strengthen the image and protect the sculpture from potential damages.

Use of Light

The use of light was a common component for the creation of feeling of depth in drawings and paintings. Consequently, in Immaculate Conception, Murillo uses light to define and arrange forms to create the feeling of depth in the painting. The use of Sfumato technique enables him to give a uniform contrast to the picture making it look natural. The light glazes help to add smoothness and depth to the painting.



The Use of Space

Immaculate Conception is painted on a realistic scale. The portrait concentrates on the total space and the dimensions of the setting. The hands and arms are included in the framework of the drawing without touching the enclosing frame. Thus, the portrait has the fullness of the sculpture

Rhythm and Perception on the Painting

From the appearance, the painting shows the ability of Murillo to employ a variety of styles and painting designs. This shows the greater skills possessed by an artist during that time. However, most of his paintings are biblical, but his skills grew spontaneously as demonstrated by many of his other paintings. The skills of using the cottonwood panel contributed a lot to the uniqueness of art (Figueroa, et al 242). The skill has enabled the portrait to exist for centuries without restoration.

Balance between Landscape and Medium

The art is made of a landscape and standards that influence the future paintings. In the painting, a woman is presented in a half-body portrait enabling the appearance of the painting to assume a backdrop landscape. The standard composition of the curves, clothing, and hair shows Murillo’s achievement. The background behind the portrait, the rivers and valleys, create harmony in the painting (Canono, et al 66). Through the smile to the moon crescent, Murillo expresses the link that exists between humanity and nature.

Formal Analysis of Immaculate Conception and Painting Industry

Immaculate Conception has influenced the current skills of painting. Artists in the modern society use the painting as a reference and inspirational factor. The painting styles and the landscape composition has been replicated by the modern sculptures in almost every artwork. This has made the artwork to be widely recognized in the entire world.

Many of Murillo’s artwork used in cartoons and other movies in order influence the enthusiast painters. Scholars have used the painting to explain how Immaculate Conception’s work has completely changed the styles and techniques of painting. This renaissance painting has revered almost in all parts of the world as the greatest masterpiece of all time.

The role played by the Immaculate Conception painting has been enormous especially during the period of renaissance, and in the society we live today. The painting has redefined the contemporary painting industry. Moreover, Murillo’s work has contributed a lot in influencing young artists in the society (Figueroa, et al 238). The reputation of Murillo spread to other painters and encouraged them to have freedom of thought and action. On the other hand, Murillo influenced fashion and how it should be incorporated in painting and other artworks as witnessed in today’s artworks.

In conclusion, the architectural design of the painting and the landscape shows the improvement of painting skills during the time of Renaissance. Immaculate Conception painting has greatly influenced and revolutionized the art of painting.







Works Cited

Canono, Francis Kenneth, Queenjellyn Labadisos, and Jo-Ann Solomon. “Personal Attributes among the Students of the University of the Immaculate Conception and their Perceived Effectiveness on the Semester-End Online Clearance System.” ARETE 3, 2016.

Diamantides, Marinos. Political Theology: Demystifying Universality’s Immaculate Conception. Edinburgh University Press, 2016.

Figueroa, Freddy Edgar Espinoza, Lina Rosa Enderica Izquierdo, and Diego Caicedo Parra. “Cultural exchange of good practices through the touristic valuation of the religious heritage between the Cathedral of Santa María de Gerona, Spain and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Cuenca, Ecuador for the management of visitors in order to conservation according to the reality of each site.” International Journal of Scientific Management and Tourism, vol. 3, no. 3, 2017, pp. 135-156.

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