Do You Know the Immaculate Conception? 6

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

In honor of the Immaculate Conception

For today’s solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I decided to issue a challenge. Two challenges, actually. The first challenge is…

Can you identify which one of these depictions of the Immaculate Conception was painted by Murillo? 

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit D

Exhibit E

Exhibit F

Exhibit F

Exhibit G

Exhibit G

Exhibit H

Exhibit H

Exhibit I

Exhibit J

Were you able to guess? If you did not know the answer, you are in for a bit of a surprise.

First, let’s eliminate some of the less likely candidates.

Exhibit C is by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, but the subject is the Assumption of Mary, not the Immaculate Conception

Exhibit E is by the School of Murillo (nice job, fellas)

Exhibit F is an obvious imitation (nice job, anyways)

Exhibit J is obviously a mosaic, but it is of a painting of the Immaculate Conception by Murillo (Nice Job!)

Now, are you ready for a big surprise? Bartolome Esteban Murillo was so inspired by the Immaculate Conception, whose dogma was promulgated in Spain not long before he was born, that he painted no less than 20 Immaculate Conceptions No Less Than Twenty! — probably more, and each one of them is completely unique.

That’s right, he painted so many different versions of the Immaculate Conception that not even the internet can tell us exactly how many he actually painted or where they all are. I only included 6 of them on this page.

To answer the original question, the ones that I did not exclude in the elimination round above are all versions of the Immaculate Conception by Murillo.

Here’s the easy part. Which one is your favorite? And if you can even give the specific name of the painting (besides “Immaculate Conception” or “La Inmaculada”) you get extra points!

Before I include my song for today, I want to issue one last challenge. If you want to offer some of your Feast Day time to this project, I would be much obliged. Can you find one or more Murillo Immaculate Conceptions that I did not include in this post? I’d like to get them all or as many of them as I can, and if you can find one that I don’t have here, share a link to the image in the comments, and I will add it (or them) to this post. Many thanks in advance!

Today’s solemnity falls during Advent. In fact, as you may already know, it ordinarily falls on December 8, which happened to coincide with the Second Sunday of Advent, which is why the feast was moved this year. I like to think of this feast as a window during Advent (which is why we sing the Gloria during the Mass). So it makes sense that today my Advent song is not an Advent song, but a Marian hymn in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

A final note… If you came here looking for information on the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception (because of the title) I don’t want to disappoint you. Here is a place where you can go to find that information (but while your here, Enjoy the Art!). I appreciate Communion of the Saints linking back to this post, and I’m happy to take advantage of this opportunity to return the favor: The Immaculate Conception As Officially Defined | Belief In The Communion Of Saints . Also, here is a good link for information on the differences between the Catholic and Orthodox doctrines concerning the Immaculate Conception (Scroll midway down the page)]

[most images taken from pages on this site]

More Murillo Immaculate Conceptions

Since the post, here are more that I’ve found (so far only one). I found this one in a serendipitous image search.

Another one! We’re on a roll!

Another from the National Art Gallery in London

Left, imitation; Right, original

Left, imitation; Right, original

Please, help me find more!


  1. What a fun post! I have to say that I guessed that most of them were the same artist, although I am not familiar with Murillo. I confess that I thought all of them were depictions of the Assumption, though.
    I wonder how one would indicate the Immaculate Conception in an icon? Hmmm. It would take more theology and skill than I have, that’s for sure!
    I enjoyed the Hymn of the Day, and yesterday’s selection as well.

    • I saw a post the other day on the Immaculate Conception and the Orthodox Church, which compared their views on the Immaculate Conception. Basically, both traditions recognize that Mary never sinned, but the Orthodox do not believe she was free of original sin, so they do not hold to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. For this reason, and because the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined relatively late in Christian history, it makes sense that there is no model for this as an traditional icon in for the Immaculate Conception in sacred art. Here is a link to the place where I read about this — you will need to scroll down a good bit to the part where it explains the differences between the two traditions regarding this doctrine. Have a blessed day!

  2. Pingback: The Immaculate Conception As Officially Defined | Belief In The Communion Of Saints

  3. Was always pretty bad in this area: my wife is the art-lover.
    But a fun post just the same.

    AND, I learned something I’d NEVER have picked up otherwise…., which is very cool.

    Thanks, James!

    • Murillo is one of the great Baroque masters who had a great influence in Spanish art, but he’s over shadowed by many of his contemporaries, such as Velazquez, Rembrandt, and Rubens to name just a few. He’s known mostly for his Madonnas and other religious paintings. IMO, his paintings of Mary are the best, because he has such a great devotion to her. Thanks for your comment, JTR!

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