Icon: Trinity

Number: 176 Period: 17th century
Name: Icon: Trinity Size: 31,2 x 26,5 cm
Origin: Russia Price: sold

The prototype for this icon was the mysterious appearance of the Holy Trinity in the form of three travelers to Abraham and Sarah under the Oak of Mamre as recorded in Chapter 18 in the book of Genesis.

The right corner of the icon: The Lord appears to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre, as he sits at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looks up and sees three men standing near him. When he sees them, he runs from the tent entrance to meet them, and bows down to the ground.

In the middle: Abraham washes their feet.

In the left corner: In the house of Abraham, Sarah and her servants prepare a feast; Abraham slaughters a calf.

In the lower half:¬† Abraham and his wife Sarah serve the three visitors who are seated at the table. Their generosity towards the visitors is the origin for the commonly used title for this scene, ‘The Hospitality of Abraham’.

While Russian theologians did not specifically distinguish the three persons of the Trinity in this type by inscription, some understood them thus: Christ is in the center with the tree above him, signifying the wood of the Cross; God the Father is at the left, in front of a building, symbolizing the Church; the Holy Spirit is on the right, in front of a hill, signifying spiritual ascent.

In the upper right corner: Abraham accompanies the departing angels.

This icon is an early 17th century icon which has been set into a 19th century panel. The practice of extending the life of an old icon by resetting it into a later panel was a common method to preserve an icon whose outer border had deteriorated. This was done for icons with great spiritual value. These icons were much treasured by families and had been passed down through numerous generations. Sometimes they were donated to a church or chapel by a distinguished patron.

The upper border of the icon is inscribed with ‘The Holy Trinity’.

This subject  is often used to represent Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) in icon depicting the twelve major feasts of the year.


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