Coronation of the Virgin with Saints
Andrea della Robbia
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This glazed terracotta altarpiece was made by Andrea della Robbia at the behest of the family of Pier Paolo Ugurgeri, the vicar general of the Observant Franciscans. Ugurgeri founded in 1474 the new church of the Osservanza on the outskirts of Siena and commissioned this work for his family chapel. Andrea della Robbia did a great deal of work for the observant Franciscans in these years, including such prominent sites as the Osservanza and the sanctuary at La Verna. Despite the austerity of observant Franciscan devotion, this altarpiece was originally enriched with gold leaf on the clothing, hair, wings, halos, rays of light, and frame, now lost but visible in early photographs. The work sufferedsevere damage suffered when this church was bombed during WWII. The Franciscans were proponents of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and therefore her Assumption and Coronation (disputed in the Renaissance, and not made doctrine until the nineteenth century). Here Mary is exalted on clouds, crowned, and celebrated by music-playing angels, but she bows, herself praying, a model of pious humility. Four saints (Jerome, Anthony of Padua, Francis, and a female martyr who could be saint Agnes), a praying woman (possibly Agnese Urgurgeri), a cherub holding an instriction, and the dove of the Holy Spirit floating right in the center add to sense that this is a doctrinal and devotional image, rather than a narrative. In the predellathe Annunciation and Nativity flank the Assumption, which sits directly below the Coronation. Framing these relief scene are delicately delineated flat glazed depictions of the Urgurgeri coat of arms and of vases of flowers. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.