Category Archives: paintings

Don’t Judge

Rouault — what an inspiration. Years ago I would wake up early mornings just to sit and stare at a book of of his paintings hoping to gain some scrap of his artistic intelligence.

From the placard: Rouault wrote, “If I have made the judges such lamentable figures, it was no doubt because I was translating the anguish I felt at the sight of a human being who is to judge other men.”

And before you judge the quality of this image consider that it was taken with a mobile phone with a 15-month-old art lover on my shoulders. Still it was great to get away to Houston last weekend and it did my heart good to see one of my favorite paintings by a favorite artist as well as see art through the eyes of my son and daughter.

George Rouault, The Three Judges, 1925. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Andean Trinity

The Trinity, Unknown artist, 18th c., 54 1/2 x 62 1/2 inches.
From The Virgin, Saints, and Angels exhibition catalog, 2006.

According to the Spanish artist Francisco Pacheco, there are a number of ways the Trinity could not be represented in art: not as a man with three heads, not as a man with one head and three faces, and definitely not as three men in the womb of the Virgin.

This seems reasonable until one considers the problem Christian missionaries have faced describing the concept of the Triune God. Clearly, a perfectly reasonable heathen’s understanding of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit might accidentally diverge from accepted doctrine to the “diabolic fiction” described above.

Luckily, Pacheco found it acceptable, even if tacitly, to depict the Trinity as shown in the painting above. This representation was especially convenient for Andean Christians because the Incans had long worshiped Aponinti, Churiinti, and Intiquaoqui, or father and lord Sun, the son Sun, and the brother Son. Not a perfect fit but for a harried missionary bent on stamping out entrenched satanic idolatry you’ve got to make use of all the opportunities that the good Lord provides.

(from Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt’s catalog notes for The Virgin, Saints, and Angels: South American Paintings 1600 – 1825 from the Thoma Collection)