Giovanni Battista Tiepolo painted this stunning depiction of the Virgin Mary in 1767-1768. The work was part of a project of seven altarpieces commissioned by King Charles III of Spain for the new Church of San Pascual, under construction in Aranjuez.
The Baroque painting, corresponding to traditional Christian iconography, and represents the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception, free from original sin. Although an ancient belief of Catholic Tradition, it was dogmatically defined* much more recently – in 1854 – by Pope Pius IX in his encyclical, Ineffabilis Deus.
Iconographic elements include the dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The stars surrounding her head and the crescent moon under her feet are drawn from Revelations 12:1, “Woman clothed with the sun.” Lillies and roses symbolize her purity and Queenship. She crushes a serpent under her feet, her hands held together in prayer, and the obelisk on her right (“Tower of David”).
Since 1827, the painting has been housed on display at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.
*We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.
Read a short excerpt of the encyclical here.
Read the whole thing here.
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