The Coronation of the Virgin

Jacopo Robusti

This painting is Tintoretto's first sketch for the competition held in 1582 and 1588 for the main decoration of the Grand Council chamber in the Doge's Palace in Venice. The artist's representation of Paradise shows Christ crowning the Virgin atop a semicircular arrangement of cloud layers, on which the twelve apostles, angels, patriarchs, prophets, the four Evangelists, St John the Baptist, Adam and Eve, Church fathers, Christian heroes, popes, and bishops are seated in hierarchical order. According to the Golden Legend, after her death Mary reunites with Christ for her coronation. The Church fathers, the saints, the martyrs, popes, bishops, and the elect all gather to witness the event. They are placed hierarchically on successive cloud layers in half-circle form. At the summit the Virgin, surrounded by the twelve apostles and seated to Christ's right, receives the crown from her son's hands. The dove of the Holy Spirit, at the central point of the construction, hardly visible in a golden halo, hovers over the scene. This arrangement echoes that of Dante's "celestial rose" (Divine Comedy, canto XXX) which describes Paradise. In the painting's center, a host of angels glorifies the scene by singing and playing string and wind instruments.