Guido da siena's coronation of the virgin thirteenth-century marian devotion between East and West

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This paper examines a panel depicting the Coronation of the Virgin attributed to Guido da Siena dated c. 1262-1267 in the Courtauld Gallery (London) in the context of cultural and intellectual exchange between Italy, northern Europe and the Mediterranean east. The iconography of the Coronation of the Virgin, strictly defined as the moment when Christ is placing a crown on the Virgin's head, originated in England c.1100 and spread to the continent in the mid-13th century. In Italy, Guido's Coronation is the earliest surviving depiction, which belonged to an altarpiece commissioned for Siena cathedral to commemorate the miraculous intercession of the Virgin who granted Sienese victory over Florence in 1260. In the eschatological context of the mid-13th century in the north, the Virgin's extraordinary role as the intercessor for humanity was strongly visualised in the iconography of the Coronation of the Virgin where she turns to Christ in an orant pose. Guido rendered the northern iconography with motifs deriving from earlier Italian depiction of the Assumption of the Virgin: The orant pose of the Virgin showing her palms to the viewers and the motif of the angels carrying the mandorla. Meanwhile, chrysography on the Virgin's mantle demonstrates the typical 13th-century western use of the eastern technique to honour her as Maria Regina. Such eclecticism, I would argue, represents the ambitious civic commission to honour the Virgin as Siena's queen protectress by making effort, both intellectual and artistic, to obtain more intercession and protection as well as to demonstrate privilege.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-96
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 13 century
  • Altarpiece
  • Cathedral
  • Coronation of the virgin
  • Guido da siena
  • Iconography
  • Intercession
  • Italian panel painting
  • Madonna del voto
  • Siena

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies


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