By Waters, Clara Erskine Clement
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Additional resources for Angels
Virgin and Child (Madonna della Stella) (shrine containing the relics of the SS. Dominic, Thomas Aquinas, and Peter Martyr) Fra Angelico, 1434 Tempera on wood panel, 84 x 51 cm Museo Nazionale di San Marco, Florence 52 53 White was the prevailing colour of angelic drapery, but delicate shades of blue, red and green were frequently employed. The Venetians often used an exquisite pale salmon colour in the drapery of their angels but steered away from dark or heavy colours. Contrary to the old Italian masters, the early German painters incorporated colourful and elaborate angelic draperies within their paintings, utilising a vast array of colours, needlework and jewels.
The multitude of angels which were introduced into early religious pictures (messengers, guardians, choristers) often indicated a “cloud of witnesses”. They lend an element of beauty and of spiritual emotion to the scenes honoured with their presence. Deposition from the Cross (Pala di Santa Trinità) Fra Angelico, 1437-1440 Tempera on panel, 176 x 185 cm Museo Nazionale di San Marco, Florence 56 57 Their effectiveness has appealed to many Christian architects who have fully profited by the example of Solomon, who “carved all the walls of the house temple with carved figures of cherubim,” and he made the doors of olive-tree, depicting carved cherubim.
In a Glory, for example, the inner circle should be glowing red, the symbol of love; and the second should be blue, the shade of light, symbolising knowledge. The Annunciation Triptych (Mérode Triptych) Robert Campin (Master of Flémalle) and workshop, c. 3 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 42 43 Angelic symbolism in its purity makes the “blue-eyed seraphim” and the “smiling cherubim” equally unconventional, since the seraph should be glowing with divine love, and the face of the cherub should be expressive of serious meditation.