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Title: Imagining the unimaginable : the iconography of the Trinity in England, c. 1000-1300
Author: Kelly, Sophie
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the ways in which medieval artists visualised the Trinity. It seeks to understand how an 'unimaginable' and paradoxical idea - that God is one being and yet three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - was depicted in visual form. The study focuses primarily on English visual culture from c. 1000-1300, where the two most common representations of the Trinity, the Seated Trinity and the Gnadenstuhl, developed. It offers new perspectives on the eleventh- and twelfth-century contexts in which these influential Trinitarian images appeared, tracing their transmission across many types of media, from manuscript illumination to wall paintings, stained glass, metalwork and sculpture in stone, ivory and wood. It shows how, at the turn of the thirteenth century, the Seated Trinity and the Gnadenstuhl evolved from images known and used in relatively limited circles to the two most common representations of the Trinity. This process is contextualised within the broader shifts in theology and debate during this period, where both Trinitarian ideas and images underwent momentous and radical changes. This thesis also examines how the standardisation and proliferation of the iconography of the Seated Trinity and Gnadenstuhl over the course of the thirteenth century paved the way for new and exciting visualisations of the Trinitarian God. Whether adapting and manipulating conventional iconography, or crafting an image that departed radically from these more standardised forms, artists working in this period turned to increasingly inventive and unusual designs as a means of communicating something new about the triune nature of God. Both the invention of 'conventional' images of the Trinity and the re-invention of these standardised forms in the production of 'unusual' Trinitarian images demonstrate the remarkably imaginative, inventive and innovative nature of artistic and visual culture in this period.
Supervisor: Guerry, Emily ; Bovey, Alixe Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D History General and Old World