Spanish School
The Trinity with Saints

Gouache on vellum, heightened with gold and gum arabic

311 x 241 mm. (12 x 9 in.)

The Holy Trinity is adored by a large number of Saints and Apostles: in the tier beneath the Holy Trinity are the Virgin Mary on Christs right hand side and Saint John the Baptist on the left. Behind the latter are Saints Catherine, Mary Magdelen, Saint Paul, Saint Peter and there are further rows with angels, whose wings can be faintly seen. Kneeling beside the Virgin Mary is Saint Ursula, and behind her are the maidens martyred with her and behind them are further rows of angels. Beneath Christ are a group of twisting angels and putti, one even stretches out his leg to catch the blood dripping down from Christ. In the following tier Saint Luke is in the bottom left corner, and beside him are various Franciscan Saints including Saint Anthony Abbot. On the opposite side is Saint Mark, Saint Onuphrius, Saint Simon the Zelot, further saints and James the Greater of Compostella. It has been suggested that one of the salient features of this subject is the kneeling figure of James the Greater of Compostella, whose shell is prominently displayed on the shoulder of his tunic.

Xavier Bray has suggested that our drawing could be around Juan Alonso de Salcedo (c.1582 Granada-1622 Seville), who often worked on vellum. Much of his work is in Seville (Cathedral) but he also worked at the Escorial. Bray compares our drawing to one in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, a Pieta, with similar figures and attention to detail.

Zahira Veliz Bomford has written about our gouache I would think it must be by someone strongly influenced by the reformed mannerism wholeheartedly expounded at the Escorial in the 1580's. If the hand is Spanish, it might be someone close to artists such as Alonso Sanchez Coello (1531-1580/90) or Luis de Carvajal (1556-1607), who would have been familiar with El Greco's Trinity from Santo Domingo el Antiguo, Toledo (source for the Christ in your drawing)…although there is a common source in Drer. Dr Mark McDonald also dates our drawing to having been produced round the Escorial around 1570-80.

Some Spanish scholars have suggested that the drawing could be by an Italian artist, however scholars of Italian drawings have suggested that it is more likely to be Spanish. Further research in this field is required, however what is clear is the fine quality and superb condition of this gouache on vellum, dating to the late 16th Century.