One of the oldest paintings owned by the museum is from the Florentine Puccio di Simone and dates from c. 1350. It shows Christ crowning his mother, the Virgin Mary. This was a beloved scene in Florentine art at the time and was often depicted with much ornamental splendour. The red hanging in the background, for instance, with its gold and grey motifs, imitates Chinese fabrics; the aureoles too are elaborately decorated. Striking and new for that time is the "flatness" of the figures: it is impossible to make out whether Mary and Jesus are sitting or "floating" in space.
At the feet of the mother and son, six kneeling angels are adding musical lustre to this apotheosis of the Virgin's life. These figures are much smaller than the two main characters. This is a matter of hierarchy.
The panel with this Coronation of the Virgin was originally the middle panel of a polyptych with at least five panels that served as an altarpiece. Two side panels are now in Berlin (Gemäldegalerie). They represent SS Catharine and Laurentius, who are shown as witnesses to the main scene. Generally, Mary's coronation was depicted with a large turnout of saints. Puccio chose not to do this. Above this middle panel, which has a cut-out shape that was unusual for the time, there was presumably a panel depicting God the Father.
Generally, the Virgin's crown was conical, as here. But on his panel, it has an impressively rich decoration. It is probably meant to resemble an imperial crown, the highest badge of honour thinkable. This assumption is corroborated by a similar crown depicted on an imperial tomb formerly in Pisa Cathedral (now kept in the related museum).
SizeH: 159,6 cm
MediumOil on panel