MASTER of the Votive Panel of Sankt Lambrecht
(active around 1430 in Austria)
The Holy Trinityc. 1430
Linden, 25 x 22 cm
Museum mittelalterlicher österreichischer Kunst, Vienna
The small picture is an early work of the Master of the Votive Panel of Sankt Lambrecht, who for a long time was known to scholars by the name of Hans von Tübingen.
In front of the golden background, which also extends over the frame, God the Father is supporting the tortured body of the dead Christ by His armpits. Though dead, Christ holds up His pierced right hand. The Dove of the Holy Ghost is hovering between them. Six angels are fluttering around the figures of the Holy Trinity, their gestures being directed towards Christ. The role of the Father is twofold. On the one hand, He is taking His Son back, thus accepting his sacrifice for mankind. Yet, the very same gesture serves to present and recommend this offering. This type of representation had developed in the surroundings of the French and Burgundian courts. In fact a tondo showing the same theme, by Jean Malouel, may have had a direct influence on the Vienna master. This is evinced not only by the iconographic resemblance of the two pictures; the memory of the round painting by Malouel may also have contributed to the composition of the Vienna panel. The representation seems to be opening up like a funnel from the green drapery of the bottom right corner. The helpless falling forward of the body of Christ appears to create a vortex, which sweeps the angels along too: it pushes away the one in the bottom right corner, while the one in the turquoise blue robe collapses backwards as though fainting. The symmetrical axis of the composition is the diagonal line running from the bottom right to the top left corner; the figures of Christ and of God the Father diverge at equal distances; the two angels in red also look like mirrored images of each other. The representation itself becomes condensed in the triangle under the other diagonal line.
The almost tactile modelling of the bodies and the fact that not even the interpretation of the angels and of the Holy Ghost is stylized, but is based as much as possible on observed experience, are signs pointing to a further development of painting.