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.