The Birth of the Virgin
c. 1627
Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598-1664)
On View

Just as striking as Zurbarán's color scheme are his rich, descriptive treatment of the drapery, and the solid masses of his figures. He has arranged the composition in an airy, oval sweep to reveal the subtle play of light and shade. The woman standing at the right in contemporary costume is believed to be a portrait of the donor because she gazes directly toward the spectator. The eggs in her basket allude to the purity of the Virgin and to the Resurrection.


  • Artist Name: Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598-1664)
  • Title: The Birth of the Virgin
  • Date: c. 1627
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 55-1/2 x 42-3/4 in. (141 x 108.6 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1970.13.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Church of the Shod Trinitarians, Seville (one of eight scenes from the Life of the Virgin, once forming a side altar at the epistle side).
Marquis of Salamanca;; in Paris c.1880).
Count Theodore van Berckheim, Paris, by 1925.
Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence; by 1930.
Heirs of the Contini-Bonacossi Estate.
[E.V. Thaw and Co., Inc., New York].
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Exposition d'art ancien Espagnol, organisée par la "Demeure Historique"

  • Paris, Galerie Jean Charpentier, 1925-06-06 to 1925-07-06
  • Augustin Céan-Bermudez, Juan, Diccionario historico de los mas ilustres profesores de las Bellas Artes en España, p. 49
  • Guinard, Paul, Archivo Espagñol de Arte, pp. 189, 191
  • Frati, T.; and M. Gregori, L'opera completa di Zurbaran,no. 30, pl. XIV p. 87
  • Lopez-Martinez, C., Retablos y esculturas de traza sevillana, pp. 6-8
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 738 p. 333
  • Gállego, J.; and J. Gudiol, Zurbaran,no. 32, fig. 44 pp. 53, 55-56, 67, 77
  • Mayer, August, Apollo, pp. 3, 7
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 49
  • Young, E., Apollo, p. 435
  • Mayer, August, Pantheon, pp. 291, 296
  • Janés, C., Los Genios de la Pintura Española: Zurbaran,no. 1 pp. 7, 84
  • Cherry, P., The Burlington Magazine, pp. 627-628
  • Soria, M., Art Bulletin, p. 74
  • Caturla, M. L.; and O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbaran,no. 18 pp. 22, 28
  • Young, Eric, The Connoisseur,fig. 5 p. 182
  • Soria, M., The Paintings of Zurbaran,no. 10, pl. 4 pp. 9, 30, 32, 135
  • Ponz, A., Viaje de España,vol. 19 pp. 5-6
  • Longhi, Roberto; and August L. Meyer, Gli Antichi Pittori Spagnoli della collezione Contini Bonacossi,no. 63, pls. LXI, LXII
  • Guinard, Paul, Zurbarán et les peintres espagnols de la vie monastique,no. 20 p. 211
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Portrait of Fray Diego Deza Francisco de Zurbarán c. 1630
Saint Francis in Prayer Francisco de Zurbarán c. 1638-1639
Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose Francisco de Zurbarán 1633

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