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 BGradual 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

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