THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (TIEPOLO)
This beautiful print is a reproduction of a portion of seven altarpieces commissioned in 1767 for the new royal church of St. Paschal Baylon at Aranjuez in Madrid, Spain. Painted by the famous artist and fresco painter, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696 – 1770).
The print measures 5” x 10” and is framed in a gold wood frame.
Measures approximately 7"W x 12"H overall and is ready to hang.
The altarpieces comprised the entire pictorial decoration of this Alcantarine Franciscan church, which was built in an austere classical style. The subjects of the altarpieces reflected some of the most important devotional practices of the Franciscan Order: devotion to the Eucharist, to the Christ Child and to the purity of the Virgin Mary. Tiepolo’s The Immaculate Conception, 1767-69, was placed to the left of the High Altar, with his Saint Francis receiving the stigmata, 1767-69 as its pendant on the right, and Saint Pascual Bailón adoring a vision of the Eucharist, 1767-69 on the High Altar itself.
The Immaculate Conception was a devotion strongly promoted by the Franciscans. Representations of this abstract idea of the purity of the Virgin Mary were conventional and familiar by the time this work was created, and paintings by Guido Reni and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo were particularly influential. In Tiepolo’s oil sketch for the Aranjuez altarpiece the femininity and humanity of Mary are emphasized, and her delicate form is supported by angels on either side. Mary’s qualities of splendor and gravitas are akin to those of the angel bearing the Eucharist in the Saint Pascual Bailón altarpiece, and this affinity is appropriate, if not deliberate, since the Immaculate Virgin was, in effect, the first tabernacle for Christ present in the Eucharist.
The symbols in the altarpiece refer to the virtues and significance of the Virgin. She vindicates the original weakness of Eve by trampling on the serpent. The palm tree symbolizes her victory and exaltation and the mirror symbolizes her freedom from all stain. The crescent moon and twelve stars refer to the Apocalyptic Woman of Revelation 12:1-10, while the crescent itself is an ancient symbol of chastity. At the same time, the moon’s light derives from the sun, just as the special grace of Mary derives from the merits of Christ. The shimmering profile of an obelisk shape in the background is a further reference to traditional symbols associated with the Immaculate Conception, the Tower of David and the Tower of Ivory, with their evocations of impregnability, virginity and purity.
The Immaculate Conception and the other altarpieces then in San Pascual Bailón were removed to the adjoining convent in 1775. (W. C.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain`s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 224).