American, born Italy, 1877–1946
Joseph Stella’s depictions of the world around him offered an idiosyncratic vision of the early 1900s. He found fame with a striking series of paintings featuring the Brooklyn Bridge. Always reinventing himself, however, he turned to a series inspired by the art and environment of his native Naples.
Purissima is one in a series of exquisite, large-scale paintings featuring Madonnas painted to resemble early Christian icons and set in stylized, paradisiacal Italian landscapes. This example includes a view of the Mount Vesuvius gently erupting the distance.