Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mary: Queen

Enguerrand Quarton 1410-1466
Coronation of the Virgin (1453-54)
Tempera on canvas
183 x 220 cm
Hospital Museum, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

The painting was commissioned by a local clergyman, Jean de Montagny for the monastery Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon where it still is.

The contract for the Coronation specified the unusual representation of the Father and Son of the Holy Trinity as identical figures

The depiction of Rome (left) and Jerusalem (right) in the panoramic landscape below is also specified in the contract. The donor had been on a pilgrimage that included both cities.

Beneath this Purgatory (left) and Hell (right) open up, and in the centre the donor kneels before a Crucifixion.

On the extreme left a church is shown in "cut-away" style, containing a Mass of Saint Gregory

The landscape background depicts the Provençal landscape in a style derived from Italian painting. The figures are more influenced by Netherlandish artists

The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a popular theme in Christian art.

Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, places a crown on the head of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

On 11th October 1954, Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam established the feast of the Queenship of Mary. (31st May)

He rehearsed the long pedigree of the title in the works of the early Christian fathers to the present day.

He went on to say:

"[A]rt which is based upon Christian principles and is animated by their spirit as something faithfully interpreting the sincere and freely expressed devotion of the faithful, has since the Council of Ephesus portrayed Mary as Queen and Empress seated upon a royal throne adorned with royal insignia, crowned with the royal diadem and surrounded by the host of angels and saints in heaven, and ruling not only over nature and its powers but also over the machinations of Satan.

Iconography, in representing the royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has ever been enriched with works of highest artistic value and greatest beauty; it has even taken the form of representing colorfully the divine Redeemer crowning His mother with a resplendent diadem."