The Proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is the first scene to which Francesco Podesti dedicated himself. The most challenging in terms of composition, number of figures and the centrality of the patron, Pius IX, it is also the only one accurately described by the artist in his Memoirs.
Podesti is clearly inspired by Raphael and places in the celestial sphere the Trinity with the Virgin and a theory of Fathers of the Church, Prophets, Apostles and figures from the Old and New Testaments. The artist writes that the pontiff wished to be depicted standing, not seated. A drawing preserved at the Academy of St. Luke documents the variation of the composition on the basis of the indications received. This is the only case in which Podesti, between the preparatory sketch and final execution, modifies significant iconographical details.
In the monochrome base, two scenes related to the life of Mary are depicted (the Birth and the Presentation at the Temple). At the centre there is a faux scroll bearing, aside from the dedicatory inscription, Podesti’s signature: «Franciscus. Podesti. eq. Invenit. Et. Pinxit.».