The Coronation of the Virgin and the Last JudgmentCirca 1260-1270
The Coronation scene follows the model seen in tympana at Senlis, Chartres, and especially Notre Dame de Paris. One small difference is the displacement of the two angels from within the scene to outside its frame. A major difference is the scene in the lower register. The tympana have the Dormition / Assumption, but here we see the ascent of the blessed into Heaven.
Theologically the blessed in the lower register, raised in the body and made perfect for their entry into the Kingdom, are one way of envisioning the Church, while Mary (Maria Ecclesia) is another.
The right leaf of the diptych is a Deësis.
Information provided by the Metropolitan Museum, New York:
French; Made in Paris (probably)
Ivory; 5 x 5 1/8 x 3/4 in. (12.7 x 13 x 1.9 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1970 (1970.324.7ab)
Intended for the private contemplation and devotion of its owner, this palm-size ivory diptych illustrates both the reward of salvation and the consequence of damnation.
The left wing represents the Coronation of the Virgin. At the bottom a retinue of the saved souls, including a mendicant friar, a king, a pope, and possibly a deacon, is ushered up a ladder to [the celestial paradise] heaven by an angel who points the way.
In the right wing Christ, accompanied by angels carrying instruments of the Passion, displays the wounds of his Crucifixion. As the dead are called from their graves, the kneeling Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist serve as their intercessors in the Last Judgment. The damned appear in the lower right, pushed headfirst into the mouth of Hell at the order of two grotesque devils.
Adapted from representations in contemporary architectural sculpture, these subjects are set within a series of trefoil cusped arcades and are elegantly carved in exceptionally high relief. The supple carving enlivens the symmetrical representation of the drama of redemption and condemnation.
More of the Last Judgment
Photo: The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York