The Birth of the Virgin

Artist: Francesco Solimena (Italian, Canale di Serino 1657–1747 Barra)

Date: ca. 1690

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 80 1/2 x 67 1/4 in. (204.5 x 170.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1906

Accession Number: 07.66


Painted in the 1690s, the picture must have served as an altarpiece in a church in Naples. In the foreground the infant Virgin Mary is shown to nurses and her adoring father, while in the distance, enveloped in a heavenly radiance, is the child’s mother, Anna, lying in bed, attended by servants. Solimena became the leading painter of Naples, training a generation of artists. However, in this painting, with its dark shadows and vigorous figures, he has notably recalled the work of his celebrated predecessor, Luca Giordano, who in 1692 had moved to Madrid to work for King Charles III.