THE TRIPTYCH GRAIL: AN INTRODUCTION

Painting by Anna May Rychter

Anna May Rychter was a bustling realist painter at the turn of the 20th Century. At some point she entered into a domestic partnership with Thaddeus von Rychter and the couple moved to East Jerusalem. It was here she painted several pieces of the Holy Land in watercolor many of which are still up for auction today. Both artists shared a deep interest in esoteric philosophies studying various schools of thought. While the Church undoubtedly disapproved of their relationship the couple carried on their relationship up until Thaddeus died on a business trip in Warsaw.

While there isn’t a ton of information available on the artists personal life we do know she was a student of Anthroposophy. As a result, she met with Rudolf Steiner on several occasions. The two discussed the Christian Esotericism found in The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz in detail. These conversations ended up leading to one of the best pieces of esoteric artwork of the 20th Century; The Triptych Grail.

Unfortunately, the original artwork was destroyed during WWII leaving us with only a few photographs to enhance and decipher. Dr. Adrian Anderson has worked tirelessly to make Steiners Anthroposophy known to the world and wrote about the painting in more detail than I’ll ever be able to cover in a few blogs.

That being said, any student of esotericism who turns their gaze to The Triptych Grail can’t help but be amazed at it’s spiritual detail. I mean this painting really captures the essence of the Christian Mysteries. We can clearly see the Masonic elements of Jachin and Boaz on each side of Christ on the cross adding a whole new depth of meaning to the Tree of Life. Sprinkle in Hiram Abiff, King Solomon, and Queen Sheba and we end up with a working model for how Steiner viewed the mystical. There is a clear and concise balance between the esoteric and exoteric aspects on display for all to see.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on Steiner. The man wrote over 40 volumes of literature, none of which are exactly light reading. His contribution to the collective conscience of our species cannot be underscored or boiled down to a few blog posts. However, I can offer insight into how The Triptych Grail has moved me and highlight some of his work in regards to the painting. I’ll be coupling the theoretical aspects people tend to attribute to the piece with direct meditative experience which is how I believe the painting came to be in the first place.

With that I leave you with the words of the artist herself, Anna May Rychter:

“My family could not understand that for me {through encountering anthroposophy} a new life-energy flowed into me, a situation which felt wonderful to me, for I was by now at an age where to me emptiness in Art allowed feelings to creep in whereby the days became dreary. The most wonderful thing that I encountered in my life occurred, when at night-time, for months, as everyone else was asleep, I arose and brought all that I had acquired recently {through becoming acquainted with Rudolf Steiner’s teachings} into a large painting.

“Section after section of this painting appeared before me, in a manner which I have never experienced again. And, later {in the night} as I lay down again, towards sunrise, the ‘threads’ of this painting never were broken; they entwined themselves tenaciously through all of my day’s activities and conversations. A blessedness enveloped me, which was all the greater, as I had already given up hope of finding something of interest in life.”

– Anna May Rychter- letter to a friend in 1911

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