The Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception

c. 1770

Ignaz Günther

(German, 1725-1775)

Painted and gilded wood

Overall: 78.6 x 34.5 x 19.2 cm (30 15/16 x 13 9/16 x 7 9/16 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1963.294


The Christian doctrine of the Immaculate Conception maintains that the Virgin Mary was conceived free from sin, ready to be the pure vessel for Christ’s birth. Depicting such an abstract idea required specific imagery. The moon beneath the Virgin’s feet, for example, comes from the New Testament vision of Saint John the Evangelist (Revelation 12:1) of “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet,” while the serpent upon which she treads symbolizes Christ’s triumph over original sin. With his characteristically delicate modeling, elongated proportions, and soft coloring, Ignaz Günther created an archetypal image of innocence on the cusp of womanhood.

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