(b. ca. 1415, Murano, d. 1476/84, Venezia)

Coronation of the Virgin

Tempera on panel, 230 x 180 cm
San Pantalon, Venice

In 1444 Antonio Vivarini and his brother-in-law Giovanni d'Alemagna, who both lived on the island of Murano near Venice, signed and dated this large altarpiece Coronation of the Virgin. Here Gothic, Byzantine, and renaissance elements blend in a strange amalgam. Saints and prophets are seated in tiers like choir stalls, as if heaven were the apse of a gigantic church. Rows of angels bring the altarpiece to a dome-like top.

The entire centre of the structure, from the checkered marble pavement to the apex of the animated dome, is filled with a fantastic throne containing Late Gothic motifs and vaguely Byzantine columns with foliated capitals. Between the columns and around them, infants carry the symbols of Christ's Passion. Between the spiral columns of the upper stories of the throne, God the Father blesses Christ, who crowns his mother, while the dove of the Holy Spirit hovers between them.