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Fermo, Civic Art Gallery - Marco Di Paolo Veneziano, Coronation of the VIrgin

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The polyptych attributed in a later era to Marco Di Paolo Veneziano is attested from 1772 onwards in an archive of the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Fermo, in which it was conserved until its recent purchase by the Civic Art Gallery. The work, in which we can see the influence of the production of Lorenzo Veneziano, must originally have been embellished with a sumptuous Gothic frame. The central panel, on a background made up mainly of a vermilion red cloth, held between the hands of two angels who constitute a group of celestial creatures, depicts the Coronation of the Virgin Mary by Jesus Christ. On the far left the Archangel Michael is depicted wearing a long ruby cloak over typical 14th-century armour. Armed with a spear, he is piercing the devil depicted in the guise of a dragon, while in his left hand he holds scales with which he is measuring the weight of souls before the Last Judgement. At his side stands Saint Anthony the Abbot who, with his typical dark coat, holds in his hand a stick with a Tau-shaped end and in the other a bell which in the Christian tradition was used to ward off evil. In the panel alongside, Saint James the Greater is depicted with a scroll in his right hand which alludes to the evangelist's life and a pilgrim's stick which reminds us of his journeys around the territory of Judea, Samaria and Spain. On the far right Saint John the Baptist is depicted with an unfurled scroll symbolising the revealed Word, whilst at his side is Saint Nicholas of Bari, wearing a long bishop's tunic, in the act of blessing. Alongside we can see Saint Catherine of Alexandria with the crown she wears on her head to remind us of her royal origins, a palm in her clenched fist which recalls her martyrdom and a wheel clasped in her other hand which alludes to the torture she suffered before her decapitation. A peculiarity of medieval paintings is the presence of haloes fashioned with a craftsman's punch which thanks to a sharp hammer blow given with care so as not to damage the gold foil, left an ornamental motif impressed on the surface. According to the tradition, every workshop had a special pattern which in time almost became a symbol with which to recognise it by.