The Birth of the Virgin
c. 1697
Luca Giordano (Italian, 1634-1705)
On View

This painting illustrates the birth of Mary, the future mother of Jesus, to the aged Joachim and Anne. Joachim, the midwives and the infant Virgin are closest to the viewer. Anne, surrounded by her attendants, recovers in the left middle ground. The room is suffused with warm celestial light, flowing down in a bold diagonal toward the newborn. Anecdotal details, such as the woman warming a blanket before the fire, and the basins for washing, portray domestic customs and furnishings familiar to contemporary viewers, linking this notable birth with their own experience. Luca Giordano’s painterly handling, rhythmical composition and luminous palette impart a visionary quality to the event. Given its theme, this painting was likely destined for chapel or sacred space devoted either to St. Anne or to the life of the Virgin.


  • Artist Name: Luca Giordano (Italian, 1634-1705)
  • Title: The Birth of the Virgin
  • Date: c. 1697
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 40 x 102 in. (102 x 259.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1975.04.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

?Earl of Derby, London, by 1857.
Lush family, Newtown Farmhouse, Tisbury (sale, Salisbury Wiltshire, Woolley & Wallis, 21 August 1970, to);
[B. Cohen & Sons/Trafalgar Galleries, London; offered 14 October 1974 and subsequently sold 30 April 1975 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Art Treasures of the United Kingdom

  • Manchester, 1857-05-20 to 1857-10-17

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

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13
  • McCorquodale, Charles, The Connoisseur, pp. 207-208
  • Ferrari, Oreste and Giuseppe Scavizzi, Luca Giordano, 1966,
  • Ferrari, Oreste, The Burlington Magazine, 1966, p. 305, fig. 31
  • London, Trafalgar Galleries, Trafalgar Galleries at the Royal Academy III, 1983, pp. 89 and passim
  • Hersey, George; and C. B. Cappel, A Taste for Angels: Neapolitan Painting in North America 1650-1750, 1987, p. 186, fig. 79
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 48
  • Ferrari, Oreste; and Giuseppe Scavizzi, Luca Giordano: L'opera completa, 1992, p. 183, no. A607, fig. 774, pl. CIII
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1132 p. 375
  • Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, 2014, p. #42
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