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Angels In Art History


And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to god in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2, 13 and 14)

Northern Renaissance, Gothic and Early Renaissance paintings are rich in philosophical and Christian symbolism regarding angels.

The word 'angel' comes from the Greek angelos, which stems from the Hebrew word mal'akh, which translates to 'messenger'.  

Angels date back into ancient Mesopotamia. They are found on relief carvings and resemble moth like creatures. The angle as we know it did not surface until the Carolingian period. According to Anna Jameson, author of Sacred and Legendary Art, "In ancient pictures and illuminations which exhibit the glorification of the Trinity, Christ, or the Virgin, the hierarchies of angels are represented in circles around them, orb within orb. This is called a glory of angels. In Pictures it is seldom complete: instead of nine circles, the painters content themselves with one or two circles only. The innermost circles, the Seraphim and the Cherubim, are in general represented as heads merely, with two or four or six wings, and of a bright red or blue color; sometimes with variegated wings, green, yellow, violet, etc. this emblem intended to shadow forth to human comprehension a pure spirit glowing with love and intelligence, in which all that is bodily is put away, and only the head, the seat of soul, and wings, the attribute of spirit and swiftness, retained is of Greek origin. "

The Annunciation painted between 1430-1432 by Fra Angelico   Italian, Florentine, Early Renaissance

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