This unusually large panel painting depicts three facets of Marian iconography: the Virgin's corporeal assumption, the Immaculate Conception—the crescent moon and the radiance behind her identify Mary as the Woman of the Apocalyse, mentioned in Revelation 12:I—and the Coronation of the Virgin. The painting is of great interest to musicologists in that it depicts Renaissance instruments with great accuracy and also reflects contemporary performance practices in the arrangement of the music–making angels. At the top, a full orchestra plays before the three figures of the Trinity. The ensemble around the Virgin is a mixed consort composed of "loud" instruments (trumpets and shawms) and "soft" instruments (vielle, lute, and harp). Two of the singing angels hold books bearing legible lyrics and notations. This music, which is the source of the painting's title, has been identified as derived from a setting of the Marian antiphon, Ave Regina Caelorum, by Walter Frye (d. 1474/1475), an English composer whose works were popular on the Continent, particularly at the Burgundian court.
Historians refer to the artist as the Master of the Saint Lucy Legend because his principal work, an alterpiece dated 1480, depicts episodes from the life of that saint. His style is characterized in both paintings by oval faces that are restrained in expression, the use of extraordinarily intense color, and a tendency to over–emphasize elaborate textures.
More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication Early Netherlandish Painting, which is available as a free PDF https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/early-netherlandish-painting.pdf
on the sheet of music held by the angel to the left of the Virgin's head: A / ve regina celorum mr regis[?]; on the sheet of music held by the angel to the right of the Virgin's head: A / Tenor ve / regina
Probably Don Pedro Fernández de Velasco, Count of Haro and Constable of Castile [d. 1492], for the convent of Santa Clara, Medina de Pomar, near Burgos, until at least 1934. Raimundo Ruiz y Ruiz, Madrid. (French & Company, New York, by c. 1947); purchased 1949 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.
The support consists of six boards with vertical grain. X-radiographs show that the joins are reinforced with dowels. A smooth white ground is present. The presence of a barbe on all sides indicates that the panel is very close to its original size and was painted in an engaged frame. In general, the painting is in very good condition, but there are numerous small losses throughout and somewhat larger losses in the upper paint layers of the landscape. Some retouches have darkened. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals extensive underdrawing, discussed below. The painting was cleaned and restored in 1950-1951 and a very small area of flaking paint was restored in 1962.
 Kress 1951, 182, states that the paint was applied directly to the panel without an intervening ground; this error is repeated by Walker 1963, 106, but corrected in Eisler 1977, 63, n. 6.
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- Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 61-63, figs. 54, 55, as The Assumption and Coronation of the Immaculately Conceived Virgin by The Master of the St. Lucy Legend and Assistant, color repro detail.
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- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 52-53, no. 37, color repro.
- Weniger, Matthias. Sittow, Morros, Juan de Flandes: Drei Maler aus dem Norden am Hof Isabellas der Katholischen. Kiel, 2011: 130, no. N49.