Pieter Cœcke van Ælst (Ælst, 1502 – Bruxelles, 1550), attributed to
The Holy Trinity
Oil on panel, 90,1 x 58,4 cm

Inv. 2012.7.1

© Laurent Mayeux Photographies

Masterpieces| Earthly and Spiritual Matters

A luminous Trinity

In 2013, Flandre Département Museum acquired this Holy Trinity, which testifies to the talent of a key painter of the 16th century: Pieter Cœcke van Ælst.

Pieter Cœcke van Ælst was an erudite man who travelled greatly, particularly in Italy and to Constantinople. A many-faceted artist, he translated into Flemish the works on architecture by Sebastiano Serlio and Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, commonly known as Vitruvius. In that way, Pieter Cœcke van Ælst encouraged the introduction into Flemish painting of Renaissance architectural motifs. His workshop’s production was considerable, and his original compositions were so successful that they were copied during his lifetime.

The Holy Trinity draws its inspiration from the 1511 engraving by Albrecht Dürer, as is shown by the inversion of the composition. The Face of God the Father, who is wearing a tiara, is taken directly from the engraving, from which are also taken the angels in the clouds, a motif that was not common in Flemish painting.

The depiction of the Body of Christ, the treatment of the Face of God, and the complex, yet supple posture of the cherub on the left are perfectly rendered, and particular care has been lavished on depicting facial expressions, which are very finely drawn. The cherub on the left stands out because of his malicious gaze; the viewer feels the abandonment of Christ, who is at the point of death.