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

Gli Antichi Pittori Spagnoli della Collezione Contini Bonacossi

  • Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte, 1930 to

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13

Masterpieces of Five Centuries, Forty-Eight Paintings and Sculptures from the Norton Simon Foundation and the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum

  • Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1972-10-04 to 1973-11-04
  • Guinard, Paul, Archivo Espagñol de Arte, pp. 189, 191
  • Young, Eric, The Connoisseur, fig. 5 p. 182
  • Cherry, P., The Burlington Magazine, pp. 627-628
  • Young, E., Apollo, p. 435
  • Gállego, J.; and J. Gudiol, Zurbaran, no. 32, fig. 44 pp. 53, 55-56, 67, 77
  • Frati, T.; and M. Gregori, L'opera completa di Zurbaran, no. 30, pl. XIV p. 87
  • Soria, M., The Paintings of Zurbaran, no. 10, pl. 4 pp. 9, 30, 32, 135
  • Soria, M., Art Bulletin, p. 74
  • Mayer, August, Pantheon, pp. 291, 296
  • Mayer, August, Apollo, pp. 3, 7
  • Ponz, A., Viaje de España, vol. 19 pp. 5-6
  • Caturla, M. L.; and O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbaran, no. 18 pp. 22, 28
  • Augustin Céan-Bermudez, Juan, Diccionario historico de los mas ilustres profesores de las Bellas Artes en España, 1800, p. 49
  • Lopez-Martinez, C., Retablos y esculturas de traza sevillana, 1928, pp. 6-8
  • Longhi, Roberto; and August L. Meyer, Gli Antichi Pittori Spagnoli della collezione Contini Bonacossi, 1930, no. 63, pls. LXI, LXII
  • Guinard, Paul, Zurbarán et les peintres espagnols de la vie monastique, 1960, no. 20 p. 211
  • Janés, C., Los Genios de la Pintura Española: Zurbaran, 1984, no. 1 pp. 7, 84
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 49
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 738 p. 333
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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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