Permanent Galleries

carved wood with gilt and polychrome



German
carved wood with gilt and polychrome
43 x 34 x 15 inches
(109.22 x 86.36 x 38.1 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Frederick Wickett
1934.007.001

German and Austrian sculptors frequently illustrated various moments from the life of the Virgin as subjects in grand wooden, winged altarpieces with many ornately carved and painted framed sections. The narrative of the Virgin Mary’s life ended with the scene depicted in this sculptural group, her crowning in heaven by the Trinity. It is likely that this Coronation scene was originally part of a multifigured winged altarpiece of the kind carved by German master sculptors such as Tilman Riemanschneider.

Before the Reformation in 1517, numerous artists, including the maker of this Coronation, presented the idea of the unity of the Trinity by giving God the Father and God the Son identical facial features. The Holy Spirit, usually present in the form of a white dove hovering above the Virgin’s head, has been lost from this version of the subject. Even though the Father (on the viewer’s right) and the Son have identical features, their positions, their gazes, and the objects they hold allow a viewer with knowledge of scripture and the creed to understand which is which.