The Coronation of the Virgin
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Jean Bourdichon
French, Tours, about 1480 - 1485
Tempera colors and gold on parchment
6 7/16 x 4 9/16 in.
MS. 6, FOL. 72

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At the top of the arched frame, God the Father offers his blessing from heaven and displays an orb, the symbol of his universal dominion. Below, an assembly of angels bears witness as the Virgin is crowned Queen of Heaven. This ceremonious and joyful miniature of the Coronation of the Virgin, an apocryphal event said to have occurred after her death, fittingly accompanies the last of the services of the Hours of the Virgin, called Compline. The text begins with verse five of Psalm 84: Converte nos deus salutaris n[oste]r et averte iram tuam a nobis (Convert us, God, our savior, and turn your anger from us).

In this miniature Jean Bourdichon displayed his knowledge of the principles of Italian Renaissance painting, including the sophisticated use of symmetry and geometry for the composition. Bourdichon arranged the angels at the feet of the Virgin in an ellipse, but to offset the composition's symmetry, he twisted the axis of the crowning angels, further emphasizing the illusion of receding space. In this miniature, Bourdichon represented the divine light emanating from the Virgin as visible rays, which then softly model the draperies of the two angels and the faces of those below.

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Flower pot and trellis