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Guido Reni, The Coronation of the Virgin

Key facts
Full title The Coronation of the Virgin
Artist Guido Reni
Artist dates 1575 - 1642
Date made about 1607
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 66.6 × 48.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by William Wells, 1847
Inventory number NG214
Location Room 37
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Coronation of the Virgin
Guido Reni

Paintings of the coronation of the Virgin Mary typically show her being crowned by Christ and God the Father, often accompanied by the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. This work, however, mixes elements of the coronation with those of Mary’s assumption (when angels carried her body and soul to heaven three days after her death). Attended by angels, the Virgin sits on a throne of clouds. Winged putti carry the crown, perhaps preparing to bestow the title Regina angelorum (‘Queen of the angels’) upon her.

This composition is a development of an earlier Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin of similar dimensions, painted by Guido Reni in about 1602–3 (Museo del Prado, Madrid). That painting is on panel, whereas the National Gallery’s small-scale scene is on copper. Reni began to paint on copper in the early 1590s and was considered especially successful at it – its smooth, hard surface allowed the artist to paint in minutely fine detail.

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