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Monday, March 16, 2015

Trinity Collage


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The more you examine El Greco's art, the more his high culture and wit emerge. See his Adoration of the Shepherds, about 1605, kept in the Colegio del Patriarca, Valencia, Spain: a delightful synthesis between his Greek origins and his Baroque environment. The three angels/putti flying above the Infant Jesus (the third picture here) are a Renaissance element (see the detail from Raphael in the second picture) that would become 'mandatory' in Western Christian art in the following centuries. But in the Eastern tradition, in the icons proper to the Orthodox Churches (see Rublëv in the first picture), a group of three angels means the Holy Trinity, reinterpreting the three personages who had been Abraham's guests in Genesis, ch. 18. El Greco however does not limit himself to this, and takes a step further: The putti are involved in a dance in which each of them fills the place of each of the others. This is a mystical dynamism of the three Divine Persons, which was called περιχώρησιϛ, perichōrēsis, by Greek theologians, and was translated into Latin as circuminsessio or circumincessio by Western Medieval authors.