(b. 1370, Venezia, d. 1439, Venezia)

Coronation of the Virgin

Tempera on panel, 283 x 303 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

On a huge multilevel Gothic double throne, Mary sits on Jesus' right, while he places a crown on her head with his right hand. The multitude of figures restrained by the strict frames of architecture emphasize the rigid ceremoniousness of the scene. On the right, patriarchs and apostles, on the left prophets and martyrs, below saints and holy virgins are lined up; they can be recognized by the scrolls in their hands. The most direct participants in the event are the evangelists within the cells of the throne structure and the musical angels in the front. The choir of angels form the mainstay of the heavenly court. There are nine of them in the first row. The two on the ends hold incense-burners, the other have musical instruments. While the others standing behind them cannot be classified into the nine orders of angelic hierarchy, it is certain that those standing on either side of Mary and Jesus are cherubs and seraphs.

The seven musical angels are the personification of an exuberant panegyric as they reflect the ceremonial mood of Mary's reception into heaven. Their instruments - two nearly identical psalteries, a viola, a portative organ, a harp, a tambourine and a lute - are mere attributes; they do not constitute a real orchestra. Characteristically, the painter did not use a single wind instrument.

The thin row of flowers at the bottom of the painting indicates that the location is the Garden of Eden. The donor of the work, Antonio Correr, the bishop of Ceneda, kneels in the right foreground. He commissioned this work for the high altar of the church from the aging master in whose works we can detect the Byzantine traits of Venetian Gothic. When he worked on this painting, he was probably inspired by Guariento's fresco on the same subject, completed in 1365 for the great council hall (Sala del Maggior Consiglio) of the Palazzo Ducale.