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Hans Baldung Grien: 'The Trinity and Mystic Pietà'

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The wounded figure of the dead Christ supported by God the Father is revealed through the clouds. Above them is the dove representing the Holy Spirit. Together the three represent the Holy Trinity. On either side are the grieving figures of the Virgin and Saint John, supporting the body of Christ. They stand in a tomb of dark red marbled stone.

The small figures kneeling on the grass below are probably the family who commissioned the painting from Baldung. Donors are often shown as diminutive to emphasise the distinction between them and the holy personages. The family's coats of arms are shown on the shields on either side of them. The coat of arms to the left is probably that of the Bettschold family of Strasbourg; the other may be that of the Rothschild family. The painting may have been made for St Pierre-le-Vieux in Strasbourg, with which the family were closely connected.

Baldung's painting invites our imaginative participation by stressing the human emotions of the mourners, and presenting even God the Father simply as a grieving parent.

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