(active c. 1270-1300)

Apse mosaic: Coronation of the Virgin

1296 (completed)
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

The mosaic from the apse of Santa Maria Maggiore is beneath the dome of the apse where are scenes from the life of the Virgin. The artist, who was commissioned by the Franciscan pope, Nicholas IV, combined new iconographic elements from Gothic cathedrals with traditional Roman elements such as the acanthus vine.

The Coronation of the Virgin had never before been pictured with such splendour. Against a gold ground a round slice of heaven in dark blue, set with the sun and moon and numerous stars in gold and silver, serves as a foil for the heavenly throne on which Christ welcomes the Virgin into the topmost sphere of heaven. Both are dressed in gold, and together they share the centre of the symmetrical composition. With his right hand Christ is placing a crown on her head, while Mary has turned toward him and raised her hands in the gesture of an intercessor. Throngs of adoring angels take an active interest in the ceremony. They are flanked on either side by applauding saints - Peter, Paul, and Francis on the left, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and Anthony on the right. At the left and right edges of the mosaic two large acanthus plants send out tendrils that uncurl into round volutes framing the figural composition at the sides.