Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Trinity Pieta

Everyone has seen pictures of the famous Michelangelo Pieta, representing the grieving Mary holding Jesus' body.  There are many other pietas, different artists' version of the same theme.  However we forget that Jesus also had a Father. This image is a detail of a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1472-1553. I have always liked it, because it portrayed God the Father as a father. It is hard to see in this small image, but his eyes are grief-stricken, looking straight out.  His cheeks are furrowed with tears. The body of Jesus is not the buff, perfect physique portrayed by Michelangelo or Raphael, but frail and thin, acquainted with poverty. This is not the image of an implacable God who demanded the sacrifice of his Son, but a father heartbroken by grief.  The incarnation has cost God greatly.


  1. On my computer, I can see the image much better if I click on it and then enlarge it to 200-250%.

  2. I haven't seen that one before. Very evocative.

  3. Thank you, Katherine. A rich object for contemplation during Holy Week. Cranach's life in itself is worth exploring, first a Catholic and later a Lutheran. I have been looking at Giovanni Gasparro, a contemporary painter, who did a pieta of sorts with Jesus and Mary at the death of St. Joseph. There's a little info with the painting here: https://hangontothevine.com/2014/04/04/divine-giovanni-gasparro-paintings-in-laquila/

  4. Thanks for the link, Jean. I had never heard of Giovanni Gasparro, nice to reflect that there are also talented artists in our time. The painting with the death of St. Joseph is touching.

  5. Christianity has inspired so much art! I like medieval and Renaissance art but there's some nice newer stuff too, like this 'Sermon on the Mount"

  6. Replies
    1. AS do I. It makes the whole story imaginable other than in the abstract.