100 Days of Art History Jinjins


The Immaculate Conception

Velazquez is a giant of painting whose work I didn't know well at first, but started really appreciating once I got into this project. His loose brushwork which was an inspiration to later artists like the Impressionists and John Singer Sargent. His most celebrated painting, Las Meninas, is so mysterious and complex. I love how it plays with the idea of who is seeing vs who is being seen. I went with this one though, which was less complex (aka more feasible) but still beautiful, and had that quality of "atmosphere" that I was loosely looking for in entries 81-90.

This is a special genre of Virgin Mary picture called The Immaculate Conception, which suggests that she's free of original sin. (Side note: I can't figure out if this means she appeared fully-formed, without sex or birth? If you know, please enlighten me.) In Immaculate Conception paintings, Mary stands on a bunch of clouds with her hands in prayer, glowing and surrounded by angels, with the sun behind her, a crown of stars, and the moon at her feet.

This was the first entry in the project that I did after Covid-19 hit the USA and we all started working from home. What an absolutely chaotic, stressful time. It was hard to focus on this one, and especially hard to be satisfied with it. At the same time it was a refuge to have this activity and this project, still steadily going, and fully under my control. Those memories are tied together now, and I can't look at this without remembering the early days of the pandemic.

This entry is also the last entry I did in the second year of this project. Year 1, I completed 68 entries. Year 2, just 17. The following year I did 15, within 8 months.

Reference image is from the National Gallery in London, where this painting is today.

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