Coronation of the virgin by the trinity by Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y CeballosColonial Museum
The coronation of the Virgin occurred just after her ascent to heaven in body and soul. The story of this event originates from apocryphal texts attributed to Melito (2nd century CE), bishop of the ancient city of Sardes, in Asia Minor. Gregorio de Tours (538-594) and later characters such as Santiago de la Vorágine (c. 1230-c. 1298), in his Golden Legend, and the Jesuit Pedro de Ribadeneyra (1527-1611), author of the work Flos Sanctorum, spread this story belonging to the life cycle of the Virgin.
The iconographic type of the coronation of the Virgin became popular in the 15th century in Europe. In Latin American colonial art, it was usual that the scenes of the coronation were taken from engravings by the Flemish artist Pedro Pablo Rubens (1577-1640), although variations on the traditional model also had acceptance.
In this case, the center of the composition is occupied by the figure of the Virgin. Kneeling among the members of the trinity, she is dressed in a white tunic and a blue mantle. Her hands rest on her chest as she bows her head to be crowned.
A cumulus holds Mary, from it stand out six cherubs represented according to their characteristic iconography: a child’s head and two wings. According to the theologian Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite (5th-6th centuries), these divine beings surrounded, worshiped, and supported God, reason why we see them in this scene.
Located to the right of the Virgin, we see the heavenly Father dressed in a richly ornamented pluvial cape and holding a scepter which he carries in his left hand. The opposite side is occupied by the risen Christ, whose bare chest contrasts with the red cloak that covers his legs and part of his back. The color of this garment alludes to his Passion.
Father and Son hold over the Virgin’s head a laurel crown, a symbol of victory.
The triad is completed by the Holy Spirit who, located between the Father and the Son, is represented as a white dove with outstretched wings. A glow of golden light surrounds the bird, emphasizing its divine character.
Two other groups of cherubs frame the upper segment of the scene. The gazes of these characters are directed towards the center of the composition.
In the lower segment, two angels play musical instruments: the one on the left strums an Andalusian guitar, the one on the right rubs a viola da gamba. The presence of musical angels in scenes like these begins to be seen from the fourteenth century in Germany. The coronation of the Virgin is precisely one of the representations in which this motif is most reiterated. In colonial America, where music was a crucial element for evangelization, the presence of these musical angels was associated with the image of holiness.
The Coronation of the Colonial Museum is one of the few pictorial pieces from New Granada that has the signature of its creator. In this case, such signature appears as an inscription in the lower-left corner: “Grego. Vazqz. Zeballoz. meacia año 1697”. The unusual presence of the signature has allowed scholars to identify and describe the style of the Santa Fe painter Gregorio Vásquez, of whose life little is known.
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo
Manuel Amaya Quintero
Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares
Paula Ximena Guzmán López
Tanit Barragán Montilla
Andrea Valentina Bastidas Cano