At the top of the composition, the Holy Spirit sends down a cascade of blazing lava. Its flowing, fluid quality recalls the prophecy from the second chapter of Joel, which foretells a day when God will pour out his spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28). Despite the Apostles’ immersion in this fiery torrent, they are unscathed—a reference to the nonconsuming flames of the burning bush (Exod. 3:2). As the lava rains down, it cools and solidifies into a pillar of rock, representing the Church (1 Tim. 3:15).
Of all the artistic influences represented in the painting’s dense composition, the Spanish master and Dominican friar Juan Bautista MaÍno is the most prominent. In a gesture that recalls the traditional pedagogical practice of copying the work of a revered master, Stevens has “transplanted” the Apostles from a painting of MaÍno’s from 1614 (also entitled The Pentecost). Scattered among the Apostles are depictions of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23) that are based directly on the Post-Impressionist still-life paintings of Paul Cézanne.
In addition to these references to past artworks, The Pentecost (After Maíno) also draws inspiration from the art of today. Many of the surfaces in the scene are repurposed, fragmentary images of mirror-polished twenty-first-century sculptures, carefully re-created in oil paint. This motif is seen most clearly in the reflective, sapphire-blue water that pours over the head of St. Luke the Evangelist, but also appears less noticeably in the flowing lava. By depicting the activity of the Holy Spirit using artistic techniques from across history, Stevens reminds us that Pentecost was not simply a one-time event: it remains a continually unfolding reality.