VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y
(b. 1599, Sevilla, d. 1660, Madrid)

The Coronation of the Virgin

Oil on canvas, 178 x 135 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

One of the tasks required of Velázquez, the court painter, was the painting of altarpieces, though to a lesser extent than painting portraits. The Coronation of the Virgin was painted around 1645, possibly for the queen's oratory in the Alcazar in Madrid. Angelic putti carry the virginal Madonna up to heaven on clouds; Christ and God the Father hold a wreath of roses over her head, and the dove of the Holy Ghost hovers above her in an aureole of light. The glory of the coronation of the Mother of God and her perfect features are signs of her virginity. The virginal face of the Madonna reflects the emotions aroused in Spain between 1613 and 1620 by the postulated Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. In this context Pacheco encouraged painters to create emphatically youthful depictions of Mary.