By Anne Leader
Today (22 May 2016) is Trinity Sunday, celebrated in the Western Church on the first Sunday after Pentecost as a day to focus on the doctrine that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at once. The Divine Mystery of God in Three Persons, dogma central to Christian theology, has been represented in a variety of ways in Christian art, most simply as a triangle. Byzantine tradition showed the father only as a right hand, and we do not find God the Father represented as a man until late thirteenth-century Italy in the Upper Church at Assisi. Artists experimented through the fourteenth century with three identical figures and, rarely, one figure with multiple heads. By the fifteenth century, the Trinity was commonly represented with God the Father as an elderly, grey-bearded man holding a crucifix with his dead son with the white dove of the Holy Spirit nearby. Another variation shows Jesus as the Man of Sorrows, as he displays his wounds to mankind.
Reference: The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture by Peter and Linda Murray. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, Trinity and Three Angels Appearing to Abraham, in an initial B, Gradual 2 for San Michele a Murano (Folio 74)
c. 1395. Tempera and gold on parchment, The Morgan Library and Museum, New York
Antonio da Atri, Trinity with Three Faces, c.1400. Fresco, Duomo, Atri
Masaccio, Trinity, 1425-28. Fresco, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Andrea del Castagno, The Holy Trinity, St Jerome and Two Saints, c. 1453. Fresco, Santissima Annunziata, Florence
Pesellino, The Pistoia Santa Trinità Altarpiece, 1455-60. Tempera and oil on wood, National Gallery, London
Sandro Botticelli, Holy Trinity (Pala della Convertite), 1491-93. Tempera on panel, Courtauld Gallery, London
Raphael, Disputation of the Holy Sacrament (La Disputà), 1510-11. Fresco, Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican
Domenico Beccafumi, Trinity, 1513. Oil on wood, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena
Lorenzo Lotto, The Trinity, 1523. Oil on canvas, Sant’Alessandro della Croce, Bergamo
Pietro da Cortona, The Trinity in Glory, 1648-51. Fresco, Santa Maria in Vallicella, Rome