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Abraham and the Three Angels

Master of James IV of Scotlandabout 1510 - 1520

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The miniature of the Old Testament story of Abraham and the Three Angels forms a pair with the Holy Trinity miniature across the double-page spread. Christian commentators understood the story of Abraham's encounter with the three angels as an Old Testament prefiguration of the Christian Trinity. The artist underscored this interpretation by giving the three angels similar facial features and just one halo. At the bottom of the miniature, Abraham, kneeling in prayer, greets his heavenly visitors. Latin words written in gold come from his mouth: Ingredere benedicte d[omi]ne mi (come in, the Lord who has blessed me). Above, Abraham serves his guests while Sarah eavesdrops behind a curtain on the right. Her weathered face betrays her age, emphasizing the miraculous nature of her conception of Isaac, which the three angels had come to prophesy. On the upper left, Abraham leads the angels on their way. Like the facing page, this page includes a frame painted to resemble an altarpiece and a block of text written on a piece of parchment illusionistically painted to look as if it is pinned to the page. Here the text of Psalm 50 continues from the previous page: Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam (and my mouth will declare your praise).

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