Great Hours of Anne of Brittany

Great Hours of Anne of Brittany Of the Holy Trinity, f. 155v


Of the Holy Trinity, f. 155v

Occupying almost the entire folio is the image of the Holy Trinity. The Father is depicted sitting as an Ancient of days (according to Dan. 7: 9, 13: 22; Is. 6) with a halo, and a long, white beard and hair. He wears a red pluvial tunic – featuring bands embroidered with haloed pairs of figures, possibly the apostles, beneath small canopies – over an alb drawn in with a cingulum and, across his chest, a green stole embroidered with golden Latin crosses. Upon his head is the imperial three-crown tiara with a globe and cross perched on top: a reference to the militant, purgative and triumphant Church and the Father’s universal power. It is precisely this garb which could be described as pontifical that enables the first person of the Holy Trinity to be identified. His right hand is raised in blessing whilst the left holds an open codex – with gilt edges and red covers featuring seven
golden clasps also held by the Son – upon whose folios the passage of Rev. 1: 8 can be read, “ego/svm/alpha/et · o[mega] ·//prin-/cipiv[m]/et · fi-/nis ·”. The second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son, also with a halo and seated, is depicted with the traits typical of Syrian-Oriental iconography, i.e. with a long beard and hair. Upon his forehead is the crown of thorns which, together with the sceptre crowned with a cross, symbolise his Passion. He is garbed in a purple tunic and red cloak. Between them, joining the two haloes, the Holy Ghost in the form of a haloed dove with outstretched wings acts as a link. Beneath the feet of the Father and the Son is a representation of the universe conceived of as crystal sphere containing the sun, moon and stars at the top, and a strip of earth with headlands and fortresses surrounded by water at the bottom. Their appearance is intended to show the three Persons as the absolute lord and master of the universe. The Holy Trinity stands out against a gold ground (divine light) surrounded by a mandorla – an element of oriental origin and an expression of the exaltation of divine glory – consisting of blue clouds arranged in waves. Surrounding it is the tetramorph facing inwards, i.e. towards the three Persons, painted in a cameo technique. At the top on the left is the eagle with a phylactery in its claws that reads “iohannes/ · avis ·”; on the right, a winged man or angel with a phylactery in his hands reading “·mathevs · homo ·”; at the bottom on the left, a winged lion with a phylactery in its claws reading “marcvs · leo ·”; and finally, a winged bull encircled by a phylactery bearing the words “·lvcas ·/· vitvlvs ·”.

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