In sacred art, nothing is more difficult to depict than the Trinity. The Father is unseen, the Holy Spirit is more than a dove, and Jesus is more than a man. Throughout time, artists have given their best efforts to allegorically depicting the Trinity in order to reveal some truth of its nature and the persons within. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Saint Andrei Rublev’sThe Trinity
Iconic, one of the first paintings to show the trinity gathering at the sacrificial meal: the Eucharist.
2. Masaccio’s Holy Trinity
Many people are stunned when they see one of these: a rendering of God the Father presenting his son on the cross. This is among the oldest, housed in a fresco panel at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy.
3. Hendrick van Balen’s baroque style Trinity
Baroque style; they were heavy on showing the human detail of whatever they were depicting.
4. Orthodox style, unnamed artist
A rather simple Orthodox-style rendering of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is placement, structure, and communication.
5. Unconfirmed artist, likely pre-Renaissance
Unconfirmed bur certainly from the Middle Ages, this iconic fresco shows the Trinity with their individual marks of salvation: the cross, the orb, and the dove.
6. Byzantine mosaic (6th century), San Vitale Basilica, Ravenna, Italy
The Byzantine panels in Ravenna, Italy are the world’s most well preserved mosaics. This one, a huge 10 x 20 foot panel in Saint Vitale’s Basilica, is one of the earliest to depict the Trinity and the Eucharist.
7. Jean Fouquet (1450s), Coronation of the Virgin
Many coronation paintings merely depict a crown ascending on Mary, and other depict her son, Jesus, crowning her. This piece though (as do several rare Renaissance and pre-Renaissance paintings!) depicts the Trinity crowing Mary in unison.
8. Jerónimo Cósida (1570), The Holy Trinity
This piece of art is one of the the few, and perhaps the most iconic to present the Trinity as “Christ with three faces.” Each face represents a person of the trinity. What it attempts to show is the sameness of the nature, but the difference in the person. This fresco famously provided the trinitarian logic triangle: the outer lines “non est” meaning, “is not the same as” and the inner lines “est” meaning, “is the same as.” Visually stunning, this piece is located in Spain.