This openwork pendant is dated to about 1630. The standing image of the Virgin, clothed in the rays of the sun and dressed in an enamelled tunic and blue mantle, with her hands together, is resting her feet on the horns of the moon. Below is an angel’s head with spread wings.
This iconography of Mary, known as the Apocalyptic Woman, comes from the New Testament (Revelation 12) and, at the time these objects were made, supported the then contested belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. This is emphasised by the inclusion of the openwork legend around the edge which reads CONCE[BID]A S[I]N P[EC]ADO O[RI]GINAL (‘conceived without original sin’). The number of surviving examples of pendants such as this reflects the increase in popular support for this belief in seventeenth-century Spain, where supporters of Mary’s conception without the stain of original sin campaigned tirelessly for it to be accepted as dogma by the Catholic Church (this did not happen until 1854). Even in Naples, then a viceroyalty of the Spanish Crown, there was fervent support for the belief, and in fact some of the most famous examples of art related to the depiction of the Immaculate Virgin came from Spanish patrons who employed artists in Naples.