Holy Family and the Trinity

What is the topic of this conversation? Let’s learn the details of this family scene.

By Colonial Museum

Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos (attributed)

Holy Family and the Trinity by Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y CeballosColonial Museum

This image displays an uncommon iconography in Colonial America. It combines terrestrial and divine settings. 

The scene takes place inside the Holy Family’s home, in what appears to be a conversation among its members. Apparently, Jesus Christ, portrayed as a young man, is preaching to his parents, who are listening attentively. 

Simultaneously with the earthly scene unfolding, in the upper part, the divine context is manifested. God, characterized as the Eternal Father with a globe as a symbol of His dominion over the world, appears amidst clouds as a witness to the teachings of His Son. 

The Father is accompanied by four angels who shed white flower petals as blessings upon the Holy Family. 

The scene from the spiritual world is complemented by a white dove, evoking the Holy Spirit. 

In the earthly realm, the young Jesus, clothed in a red cloak, completes the Trinity, composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The position of his hands indicates that he is presenting his teachings. 

Jesus’ gaze is directed towards the Virgin, dressed in a white tunic and a blue mantle. Her lowered gaze and the gestures of her hands represent her humility. Next to her, on the floor, we see a basket of laundry alluding to the domestic chores performed by Mary. 

Joseph shifts his gaze towards the divine beings while resting his left arm on a table where the tools used in his work as a carpenter are placed. 

One of the messages conveyed by this image relates to the roles assigned to each family member according to colonial logic. Women take care of household chores, while men work to earn a living. 

It is unknown which literary sources could have given rise to this iconography. However, this type of paintings have been associated with an engraving by Gilles Rousselet based on a painting by Charles Le Brun, both being French artists from the 17th century. 

Holy Family and the Trinity  

Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos (attributed) 
Oil on canvas  

Mid-17th century 

Credits: Story


Museum Director
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo

María Alejandra Malagón Quintero

Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares

Collection Management
Paula Ximena Guzmán López

Tanit Barragán Montilla

Jhonatan Chinchilla Pérez

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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