Historical and critical examination of the notion of human-divine paradox as typified in two images from Late Quattrocento Italy
Pickles, John G.
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During the Renaissance there were developments in thought and practice within both artistic and academic fields. These movements, being intertwined with theology, created an exciting context for the re-interpretation of such concepts as the Trinity, Christ’s humanity, and the limits of representation. The aim of this thesis is to analyse two images which illustrate these rationalizations of the Doctrine of the Trinity and particularly the human-divine paradox, at the height of Renaissance ingenuity. This thesis will explore the interaction between the historical, theological, cultural and philosophical frameworks as they influence the composition of High Renaissance art. Conversely, this investigation will examine how these disciplines’ are fuelled by the artworks themselves. Within this artistic development of the Trinity, the most startling evolution is found in the interplay between humanity and divinity as seen in the three persons of the Trinity. This paradox provides valuable information concerning the bias of the artist and of the period. However, it also raises questions concerning the extent of theological orthodoxy, liturgical integrity, and symbolic accuracy which need to be addressed by the observer. It is in considering these questions that I hope to be able to express some of the factors which were important to the theological world of the 15th century and which are still important to 21st century understanding of the nature of the Trinity.