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Johann Rottenhammer, The Coronation of the Virgin

Key facts
Full title The Coronation of the Virgin
Artist Johann Rottenhammer
Artist dates 1564 - 1625
Date made probably 1596-1606
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 92.7 × 63.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1983
Inventory number NG6481
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Coronation of the Virgin
Johann Rottenhammer

This scene is set in heaven, and Rottenhammer has managed to convey its vast scale even in this small space: rows of angels, saints and prophets fill every inch of the painting, and the more distant figures are painted very faintly to create a feeling of expansiveness.

At the top, surrounded by a blaze of celestial light, the Virgin Mary is crowned Queen of Heaven by Christ and God the Father. Just below, Adam and Eve appear among other important figures from the Bible’s Old Testament. Sharing the honour of this upper echelon are the apostles Saint Peter, on the left with the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and Saint Paul, on the far right. The lowest rung is populated with saints and important clerics of the Catholic Church.

Rottenhammer probably made this picture for Cardinal Camillo Borghese, who became Pope Paul V in 1605. He is the bald, bearded figure gazing at the viewer at the lower right.

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