The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity

circa 1785
Artist
Pedro Antonio Fresquis, American, 1749-1831
Work Locations: Truchas, NM
Locale
New Mexico
Country
United States
retablo
Paint and gesso on wood panel.
Gift by Exchange Althea Revere
1971.102
Pedro Antonio Fresquis (American). The Holy Trinity. circa 1785. Paint and gesso on wood panel.. Gift by Exchange Althea Revere. 1971.102.
Dimensions
height: 18.25 in, 46.3550 cm; width: 36 in, 91.4400 cm; depth: 1 in, 2.5400 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Collection
Spanish Southwest
When Spanish settlers arrived in the southwestern United States at the end of the 1500s, they brought with them paintings and sculptures of Catholic saints for their churches and homes. Soon afterward a local tradition of making such images developed. Spanish devotional artists (santeros) learned from local Pueblo Indians how to make paints from native plants and minerals. They combined these homemade paints with oil paints imported from Mexico to make images of religious figures known as bultos (sculptures) and retablos (paintings on wood panels). Both are still made in the area today. This lunette is attributed to the New Mexican artist Pedro Antonio Fresquis (1749 – 1831). Like all people of this name in New Mexico, Fresquis was descended from a Flemish miner named Jan Frishz who immigrated there in 1617. Fresquis is the earliest native-born New Mexican artist to be identified by name. The lunette would have topped an altar screen in New Mexico, most likely the one commissioned in 1782 by the Indians of San Juan Pueblo for their church, and later moved to Chamita, New Mexico where the lunette was too tall to fit into the apse and was removed. The lunette demonstrates the distinctive style of Fresquis, the first artist to adapt inspiration (probably via engravings) from the new international rococo style which in turn was partially inspired by Asian textiles and decorative arts. Fresquis’s style heralds a break from the baroque tradition and a shift to the lighter palette and ambiguous space of the new style. Fresquis used a free-form, impressionistic drawing technique, pastel colors, strange motifs floating in ill-defined space; all elements seen in the lunette. He was also known for his inventive iconography such as the horizontal scepter (partially lost in the seam) held by all three members of the Trinity. Depictions of the Trinity as three identical men emphasized the Trinity’s individuality over its unity and were banned by the Pope in 1745. Although such images soon disappeared in Europe, they continued to be used in Latin America up to the present. --Donna Pierce, 2015
Known Provenance
Gifted to the Denver Art Museum in 1971 by exchange (Althea Revere). Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.

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