The Birth of the Virgin

Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598-1664)
c. 1627
Oil on canvas 
55-1/2 x 42-3/4 in. (141 x 108.6 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
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.


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.

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