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Bernardo Daddi: 'The Coronation of the Virgin'

The composition is based on the central panel of the 'Baroncelli Polyptych' signed by Giotto. Both have as their subject the coronation of the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven, and intercessor for mankind (Psalm 45). The surface of Daddi's painting, however, is more decorative than Giotto's, with a harmonious arrangement of gold-patterned pinks, whites and greys, dramatically contrasting with the bold celestial blue of Christ's robe. He also made the Virgin's pose deliberately ambiguous, so that we are unsure whether she is enthroned or kneeling in a posture of humility.

This is the upper part of a panel that once had figures of four music-making angels and Saint John the Baptist and a deacon saint (probably Saint Stephen) in the lower part, which survives at Christ Church, Oxford. It is likely that this was originally a single independent panel and may have been made for private devotion, or for hanging on the pillar of a church at the request of a private patron.


 
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