Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Coronation of Mary

Title: The Coronation of Mary

Artist: Enguerrand Charonton

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 183 x 220 cm

Date: 1454

Location: Hospice, Villeneuve-les-Avignon.

Mary, Queen of All Saints, usually referred to by Christians as the Virgin Mary or Saint Mary, was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee. The New Testament describes her as the mother of Jesus Christ, and that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit while still a virgin. A number of important doctrines concerning Mary are held by Christian churches. Some Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, believe that Mary lived a sinless life, offer prayers to God through Mary and venerate her as intercessor and mother of the church. Most Protestants, however, do not follow these devotions.

Queen of Heaven is a title given Mary by mainly Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches, to whom the title is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in 431, where the Virgin Mary was proclaimed Theotokos, literally, the "God-bearer", or "Mother of God". Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, which states that Mary is Queen of heaven because her son Jesus is King of Israel and heavenly king. In Hebrew tradition the mother of the king is queen. The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given more formal status by the Church.

In this depiction of the Coronation of Mary, the decorative figure of the Virgin, floating in gold and red brocade in the middle distance, is flanked by God the Father and by Jesus, both depicted as men of the same age, with the same facial characteristics and clothes. On their right and left a multitude of smaller figures of the blessed angels, young children, monks, bishops, kings and popes, and the common folk adore the heavenly scene before them. Below, in a long miniature scene, Christ is raised up on high on the cross with the donor kneeling at its foot. The Madonna is perhaps the most typically French creature in mediaeval French painting, a lovely woman with narrow eyes, a delicate face and slightly long nose. There are innumerable details in this painting which charm, and the mastery of the individuality of each of the human characters, the skill in the creation of the landscape, and great fusion of these numerous elements commands admiration.

Enguerrand Charonton (or Quarton), (c. 1410, Laon, - 1461, Avignon) was a French painter. Though his career is unusually well documented for a provincial artist of his date, there are only two extant works that are certainly by him. These are the Virgin of Mercy (1452), and the Coronation of the Virgin (1454) in the Muse de l Hospice at Villeneuve-les-Avignon. They are both highly impressive works, uniting Flemish and Italian influence and having something of the monumental character of the sculpture of Charonton’s region.

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