Diego Velazquez’s The Immaculate Conception and The Vision of St. John are two paintings created during his early career in Seville around 1618. These works were possibly commissioned to celebrate the recent papal decree that defended the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, a central doctrine of the Catholic faith which states that Mary was conceived without original sin.
Both paintings were masterfully created using chiaroscuro techniques to emphasize important points and create an atmospheric perspective. The Immaculate Conception depicts the Virgin standing on a moon and surrounded by stars, while The Vision of St. John portrays Mary as conceived without sin after receiving a heavenly vision from St. John the Evangelist.
The paintings are thought to have been painted as twin pieces for El Carmen Monastery in Seville, where they remained for many years before being moved to different locations over time. Today, they can be viewed at various museums such as Foundation Focus-Abengoa in Sevilla and National Gallery, London.
Velazquez’s The Immaculate Conception is considered one of his earliest known works and showcases his skillful use of light and shadow techniques. By portraying this important religious event through art, Velazquez has left a lasting impression in religious art history that still stands today.