This Flemish-style painting on wood of the Virgin Mary’s coronation to which the Holy Family has been added is a striking example of Indo-Portuguese art. The Flemish influence can be seen in both the cartouche as well as the richly decorated frame, which yet reveals the hand of the Indian artist.
In the picture are the Virgin Mary with a crown and halo of gold stars, St. Anne taking Infant Jesus into her arms, St. Joseph, recognizable by the lilies in his hand, the baby’s maternal grandfather, St. Joachim, the Holy Trinity appearing in a radiant halo, and pairs of angels, creating a truly celestial atmosphere. A host of cherubim are found in the clouds that separate divine and earthly worlds. The cartouche below is flanked by two kneeling bearers and carries the inscription: S. ANNA MATER DEI GENITRIS SUCCURRE MISERIS (St. Anne, Mother of the Mother of God, help sinners). It tells us the painting’s real subject is St. Anne, treated with the same importance as the Virgin Mary and Child.
The painting’s frame is striking, japanned in bright red with gilded carving in low relief. At the top is an entablature recalling altar architecture, with curving vegetal and stylized flower motifs replacing the shell design customary in similar European works. The symmetrical, intricately carved gold-painted plant motif composition set off by the red background has at its very centre a splendid gilded open lotus blossom, a local touch. The frame is cut out of solid wood with corner joints, and decorated with Indo-Portuguese water-leaf motifs and wide ribbons. The painting’s gilt embellishments of crown, halos and stars, and the ornate frame (though Indian in interpretation) are typical of Flemish art, where the use of rich materials reveals the symbolic importance of the devotional figures represented.
With its identical frame, painting style and colour palette, the Holy Martyrs of Morocco found in the museum’s collection reveals the skilled hand of the same artist.