Coronation of the Virgin by Fra Angelico
Title: Coronation of the Virgin
Artist: Fra Angelico
Location: Museum Uffizi, Italy
Medium: Tempera on panel
The Coronation of the Virgin was painted in the early Renaissance with a hint of medieval painting due to the golden background. In this painting, Christ is crowning the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven. They are both surrounded by rays of light to symbolize their divinity and many people who are there are witnessing her coronation. Angels are playing musical instruments, several saints and other important figures are some of the witnesses. For example, St. Egidius was put into the painting because his church originally housed the artwork. We also have Antonio Pierozzi who was the owner of the convent of San Marco where Fra Angelico attended.
The Coronation of the Virgin is part of Christian art which was popular in Italy beginning from the 13th century up until the 18th century and even now. In many older paintings of the crowning of Mary, the setting is in “heaven” even though it is not seen as what we would assume heaven to look like. However, over the years the setting has emerged to where “heaven” is imagined to be: in the sky.
When one thinks of King and Queen, they think of marriage. However, in the ancient middle east it is common for the king’s mother to be crowned the queen. Hence, Jesus being the King of the Universe, Mary is the queen of Heaven. Her name was given to her by the Roman Catholic Church and they made a holiday after her. They celebrate a feast on the 22nd of August. This event is the belief from the church that Mary was taken up to Heaven when she died, known as The Assumption. This feast is a public holiday in countries such as Austria, Chile, France, Spain, and many more. For other religions, the holiday falls on a different date. They consider her assumption as her birthday and was also a symbol that God promised them that they too will one day enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mary is crowned with twelve stars above her head and is usually seen as dressed in blue. Her crown contains several meanings to the Catholic Church. In ancient times, a crown signified victory and if made in gold, it represented power and wealth. This shows that she is victorious in Heaven and wealthy in God’s promises. The reason why there are twelve stars on the crown is because the number twelve represents perfection and the twelve tribes of Israel. Mary also wears blue because it reminds us of the color of the sky.
Fra Angelico drew inspiration for his painting of the Coronation of the Virgin from Lorenzo Monaco. He was a painter in the late gothic early renaissance era. He did paintings such as Madonna and Child and another version of the Coronation of the Virgin, which is where Angelico got his ideas from. In Monaco’s version, he had three panels to his painting and in this picture, Angelico decided to only have one. He did indeed create three panels but removed them before publicizing them in museums.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Coronation of the Virgin: Fra Angelico. 2012.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Coronation of the Virgin. 2012.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Queen of Heaven. 2012.
World Biography. Fra Angelico Biography. 2010.