late 18th century
oil on canvas
Gift of Gerry S. Culpepper
© Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Mike Lundgren.
Beginning in the 4th century, the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit) was occasionally represented in European art as three near-identical Christ figures. Despite disapproval from some church authorities who deemed it unorthodox, this iconography was especially favored in colonial Latin America as a graphic illustration of the idea of the three holy entities embodied by the Trinity. In this image, Jesus appears on the left holding a golden scepter, on the right holding the orb of the world, and in the center with both hands placing the crown upon Mary’s head. Below, the apostle on the right holds a book and a carpenter's square, symbolic attributes of Saint Thomas, Apostle to the Indies (as the New World was originally called). On the left is Saint Francis of Paola (1416-1507), founder of the Minims, a 15th-century Roman Catholic religious order of friars. The inclusion of this Saint suggests that the painting might have been commissioned by the Minims in Peru, since the Order established convents in Lima and Guamanga.