Annibale Carraci
The Assumption of the Virgin

1601
Oil on canvas
Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

Carraci makes the Assumption quite literally palpable. St. John reaches out to touch the Virgin's blue mantle. The hand of another apostle can be seen reaching into the empty tomb below the three putti, and St. Peter's hand grasps the lip of the sepulchre (see detail). Two others hold their right hands to their hearts, while only one (St. Thomas?) holds his hands out and away from the miraculous event (see detail).

The Apostles, too, are made more palpable than usual in Assumption paintings; note the foot that presses out toward the viewer in the lower left and St. Peter's roughly muscular knee (see detail).

Moreover, the frame seems to press the apostles in toward her even as she ascends. The effect of all this is to intensify the viewer's participation in the sense of awe on the faces of the apostles.

More of the Assumption

Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.