The commentary of the cover

I will give you the crown of Life by Pierre-Marie Dumont

This work represents the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary through to its culmination in her celestial corona­tion. It was painted by Ambrogio di Stefano (1453–1523), known as Bergognone, “the Burgundian,” perhaps due to his family origins. But, one might also see there an allusion to his artistic loyalties, running counter-current to the Renaissance, to a style that owes more to Van Eyck and Fouquet than to the Italian masters of the new art. Like Bourdichon (1457–1521), and in a very similar style, Bergognone was at first active within the sphere of influence of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519). But Bergognone and Bourdichon declined to sign up unreservedly to the Renaissance. While their pictorial techniques never stopped evolving with the times, they preferred to reject naturalism, instead retaining from the art of the Gothic masters and from manuscript illumination the venerable expression of the sacred through an idealized representation of nature. Not without originality, they continued down this tradi­tional route until their deaths, even as Michelangelo (1475–1564) and Raphael (1483–1520) came to reign over a new age.

Here, Mary is raised up to heaven by eight cherubim clothed in yellow, the color of incorruptibility. Positioned like a trellis behind her, the heavenly host of angels, musicians, and choristers—the same that filled Christmas night with wonder—pay homage to the New Eve. In the lead, two heralds in white gowns, the angels of the Resurrection, raise their trumpets, ready for the end of the ages.

What joy to contemplate the triumph of our little sister in hu­manity, crowned Queen of the angels! And what cause for hope! For, in our own modest way, we too, through the grace of our baptism and our faithfulness, are promised to be received as kings and queens in the highest heavens. Thus said the Alpha and the Omega, he who knew death and who is Life itself: Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rv 2:10).


Assumption, Ambrogio Bergognone (1453–1523), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y.

Photo: Public domain.