Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Attributed to Bartolome Esteban Murillo

109" x 76" Circa 1640

Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1618 - 1682) was the first Spanish painter to be recognized and acclaimed throughout all of Europe. His work, consisting largely of portraits and religious themes, is notable for its dramatic use of light and shadows. One striking Murillo characteristic is the illuminated mist, in which angels and cherubs can be seen surrounding the central figure. His later years, especially, were devoted to religious compositions depicting the peaceful, even joyous aspects of spiritual life.

Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death - - statement taken from the Second Vatican Council, (LG, n. 59). 


Marist tradition, supported by recent scholarship, date this painting of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin as stylistically within the 17th century Spanish School period- - perhaps even from the Seville Academy which Murillo helped found in 1660. And it is widely thought that the artist himself cooperated in the finished work.

Brought to the United States by members of the Marist Order during the late 19th century, a time when religious orders were undergoing persecutions in France, the painting was given a prominent place in the chapel of Jefferson College, Louisiana. It remained there through 1929, when the Marist relinquished control of the college. Transferred to the Marist Seminary in Washington, D.C., the Murillo was hung first in a private oratory, then enshrined above the seminary chapel's altar.

Looking to make this now celebrated, three centuries-old representation of the Assumption available to still greater audiences from across the United States and beyond, the Marist Administration of Washington Province has presented the painting, on permanent loan, to Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine.