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The Coronation of the Mother of God

Central Russia

Room 2
Tempera on wood
11,3x9,3 cm
1890 n.9319

The Virgin is depicted at the centre of the composition, kneeling on a cloud, while Jesus Christ and God the Father place a crown on her head. Above shines a dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ and God the Father are both seated on the clouds: the former has a youthful appearance and holds a processional cross in his right hand, while the latter, with white hair and beard, holds a globe surmounted by a small cross in his left hand. An inscription runs along the upper edge that can be translated as “The Father crowns the Daughter, the Son the Mother, the Holy Spirit the Bride”.

The icon of the Coronation of the Virgin, popular in Catholic art from the end of the 13th century, remained little known in the Byzantine world for a long time. It did not appear in Russian painting until the 17th-18th centuries when there was a strong influence of Western icon themes, as is also attested by how this icon presents the Virgin, without the maphorion (a traditional Byzantine garment covering her head) and with her hair down, flowing over her shoulders.

It is highly likely the theme of the Coronation was conceived not only as a composition dedicated to the Mother of God, but also as a depiction of the Trinity in whose presence the Virgin acts as intercessor for mankind.

Text by
Daniela Parenti
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