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Birth of the Virgin, c. 1696-98

Luca Giordano

Italian, 1632-1705
Oil on canvas
40 x 102 in. (101.6 x 259.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1975.04.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Gifted with a brilliant imagination and a virtuoso technique, Giordano had become one of the most important painters in Italy by the second half of the seventeenth century. Giordano's late work anticipates the light, airy style of the Rococo. The free and painterly handling, rhythmical compositions and luminous palette are readily visible in this painting. The composition is organized along a horizontal format in two tiers--Joachim, the attendants and the Infant Virgin in front, and Anne with her helpers slightly elevated in the left middleground. The room is suffused with a celestial warm light, flowing down in a bold diagonal towards the newborn. During his long life, Giordano had many followers and pupils. As a great innovator of the decorative style of the eighteenth century, he played an important role in the early development of Francesco Solimena and Francisco Goya.

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