The Birth of the Virgin

Artist:
Luca Giordano (Italian, 1634-1705)
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 
On View
Description

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.

Provenance:

?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.

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