Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Trinity: Coronation of the Virgin

El Greco (1541 – April 7, 1614)
The Coronation of the Virgin 1592
Oil on canvas
99 x 101 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

The composition is based on a print by Albrecht Dürer: see below

Albrecht Dürer 1471- 1528
Life of the Virgin: 18. The Coronation of the Virgin 1510
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna

After the Assumption, Mary is shown crowned by her Son and God the Father. Overarching the scene is the Holy Spirit. Mary crushes a serpent with her heel. The Crown has twelve stars

The subject is notable as one where the whole three persons of the Trinity are shown together

Mary`s relationship to the Trinity is emphasised. She kneels before the Father who sent the Angel to request that she conceive her eternal son, before the Son whom she conceived, gave birth to, fed and nourished, before the Spirit by the operation of whom she conceived her son and whom she received on Pentecost.

One is reminded of the Scriptural texts seen to relate Mary to the Trinity:

8 Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come: thou shalt be crowned from the top of Amana, from the top of Sanir and Hermon, from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards
(Song of Songs 4:8)

11Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father's house.
12And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty; for he is the Lord thy God, and him they shall adore
(Psalm 44: 11 - 12)

1And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars:
2And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.
3And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems:
4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son.
5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days.
7And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels:
8And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven
(Revelation 12:1 -8)

The title "Queen of Heaven", or Regina Coeli, for Mary goes back to at least the 12th century

The subject of the Coronation by the Trinity began to emerge around the turn of the 14th century

The theme of the Coronation of the Virgin showing only Christ actually crowning the Virgin appears to have originated in England in the first half of the 12th century. This version of composition achieved great popularity in 14th-century Italy