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The Birth of the Virgin, c. 1627

Francisco de Zurbarán
Spanish, 1598-1664
Oil on canvas
55-1/2 x 42-3/4 in. (141 x 108.6 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Just as striking as Zurbarán's color scheme are his rich, descriptive treatment of the drapery, and the solid masses of his figures. He has arranged the composition in an airy, oval sweep to reveal the subtle play of light and shade. The woman standing at the right in contemporary costume is believed to be a portrait of the donor because she gazes directly toward the spectator. The eggs in her basket allude to the purity of the Virgin and to the Resurrection.

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