Curator‘s Comments

The Coronation of the Virgin is the earliest-known altarpiece by Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder, a contemporary of Lucas Cranach and Hans Holbein and the foremost painter in Cologne in the first half of the sixteenth century. It was painted for Dr. Peter von Clapis, law professor at the University of Cologne, and his wife, Bela Bonenberg, who are represented in small donor portraits in the center panel, which also bears their coats of arms. This altarpiece is rare because it is intact (with the exception of a later frame).
The center panel shows the Virgin being crowned by Christ and God the Father, dressed in richly brocaded and jeweled robes, with the Dove of the Holy Spirit above her head. The left side panel depicts Saint Ivo, the patron saint of lawyers; Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, is shown in the right panel. The figures are exceptionally well-rendered, a testament to Bruyn’s skill as a portrait painter, and are set within a beautifully depicted landscape. The exterior paintings of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel form a scene of the Annunciation when the altarpiece wings are closed.

The Coronation of the Virgin (front)

Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder. German, 1493–1555

The Coronation of the Virgin (front), 1515

Oil on wood

Purchased with the Hillyer/Mather/Tryon Fund; the Beatrice O. Chace, class of 1928, Fund; the Dorothy C. Miller, class of 1925, Fund; the Madeleine H. Russell, class of 1937, Fund; the Janet Wright Ketcham, class of 1953, Fund; the Margaret Walker Purinton Fund; the Carol Ramsay Chandler Fund; the fund in honor of Charles Chetham; the Katherine S. Pearce, class of 1915, Fund; and the Eva W. Nair Fund

ID Number: SC 2006:1