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Those Angels September 19, 2009

Posted by anagasto in Bible, drawing, history, painting.
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Most angels are anonymous and many play an instrument.

This one is from Italy and plays a guitar or a mandolin, but one does not really like the defiant look in his eyes and that contrast between his elaborate, finely curled hair and that rough jaw:

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>>> >> Versión en español → → L o s Á n g e l e s

angel-playing-the-mandolin

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fra_angelico_043….

And here is Gabriel talking to the Virgin as imagined by Fra Angelico about 600 years ago. The picture is from Wikipedia. Of all the angels Gabriel is probably the most famous.

The technique is called “fresco” meaning watercolours painted on wet lime.****

**** Oil-based paints did either not yet exist at the time or had just been invented. When they painted on wood boards they used egg, the yolk or egg-white or both; their colours were finely ground semi-precious stones, plants, clay.

Fra Angelico painted so well that people thought he was a holy man and the pope officially declared him of high heavenly rank, though not quite a saint yet .

:-)

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In the background you see Adam and Eve being told to leave Paradise in the beginning, after the creation.

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tn_rafael-little-angels

These are the two little baby angels imagined by Raphael, surely the world’s most famous angels, reproduced everywhere.

They are at the foot of a big painting called The Sistine*** Virgin, looking pretty but unrelated to anything you would find in the Bible.

Much earlier, similar little angels flew around temples and villas representing Eros.

This name does not refer to the famous Sistine Chapel which is in the Vatican, but to The Madonna di San Sisto which is in Dresden, Germany. It is the painting that Raphael finished shortly before he died in 1514. You can see it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Madonna

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Gustave Doré drew the angel that wrestled with Jacob:

Jacob-angel

The fight lasted all night and then the angel gave Jacob the  name of Israel.

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chagall_Abraham and the three angels

In literature the most famous angels are those that came as three strangers to Abraham to let him know that he was going to have a son. They sat down at the table and Abraham served them a meal when he did not yet know that they were angels.

Below is a Russian icon showing those  same three angels:

angels-at-abrahams-table

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The blackboard sketch below and the two colour pencil drawings by ghD are successful as to colour and shapes, but in fact wrong, since the text says quite clearly that Abraham himself served his visitors. He didn’t send his wife or a servant to do that.

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In his dream Jacob saw angels move up and down a ladder that came from Heaven  to the place where he was sleeping.

jacobsdream.gif Drawing by ghD

It says he had a stone for a pillow.

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Some great angels are known by their names: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.

Jehoel is the angel that governs singing in Heaven.

However, some of the angels take up much more room in art and legend than in Scriptures.

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chagall-fallen-angel
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The most disputed of them is the Fallen Angel who is also known as Lucifer and the Son of Dawn,  sometimes as Satan.

English : How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the Earth, you who once laid low the nations!

Latin : quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes

Originally this was probably understood as Israel addressing its enemy, Babylon. Later it became part of that very complicated and controversial history which is Satan’s or the devil’s. The painting is by Chagall and is sometimes also called “The Flaming Angel”.

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Spanish : ¡Cómo has caído del cielo, lucero de la mañana! Tú, que sometías a las naciones, has caído por tierra.

French : Te voilà tombé du ciel, Astre brillant, fils de l’aurore! Tu es abattu à terre, Toi, le vainqueur des nations.

Portuguese : Como caíste do céu, ó estrela da manhã, filha da alva! como foste lançado por terra tu que prostravas as nações!

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codex_gigas_devil

Now, as the story is old, a few thousand years old, it has received lots of attention from many places and from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars, and so everybody contributed his own interpretation. In some regards the Fallen Angel was also the devil and was the Serpent that told Eve to try that apple : remember?

eve talking to the snake Drawing by ghD

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The pictures above are one from the Middle Ages, from an immense hand-written book called the Codex Gigas, and the other is by contemporary content provider (CCP) who took the story lightly. To a modern viewer that brown devil also looks funny and friendly, but that is a misunderstanding due to Time passing. The poetry is by Isaiah.

devil_codex_gigas

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The Google pictures that you get of the Fallen Angel are typically Neo for Goosepimples with Gustave Doré leading the show:

lucifer-dore

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In Madrid there is even a monument to the Fallen Angel, a bronze statue, but difficult to photograph because it is in the middle of a roundabout :

fallen-angel madrid retiro

It is in the city center park called The Retiro. Barely visible in this photo, there is also a serpent coiling around his feet.

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And below is the drawing that Botticelli made for Dante’s Infierno.

Botticelli Satan

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According to Heine’s  poem on the death of Salomon, there were twelve thousand angels standing by his bedside with swords that were flames of steel; they drew their swords each time they saw grief approaching.

Heine says that it was their mission to protect the dying king from the terror of his dreams.

Heine’s poem with a prose translation into English.


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Especially in the Middle Ages, people took all their information from pictures, and most people could see pictures and statues only in their churches,  on the walls and doors, all around the altar, in the windows, all over, in every little corner, dozens of them, some even on the roofs:

They spent all their time imagining every little detail of the Bible stories. For instance, remember the Three Kings that went to see the newly born baby?

They had been traveling from far, they were tired, and early in the morning they had to be woken up by the angel:

kings told to go

The picture of the angel calling the sleeping kings and the photo of the roof crawler are from “Paradox Place“, but I have not yet found the complete reference.

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Chagall angels serving a meal

There is a science called angelology where they collate what the old documents say about the angels in the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

According to that science, their Hebrew name suggests that angels are messengers or sons of God. They are of extraordinary beauty. They may be made of fire. Some are powerful and some are dreadful.

Heaven is understood to be a veil or a curtain that has to be rolled up and down to enable the sun to go in and out, and maybe the angels have to help there. Some bear swords.

Based on the Jewish and the Catholic encyclopedia

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giotto two angels

Giotto painted water colours on fresh lime, the technique  known as Fresco. Lime takes only a few hours to set up and get hard. So Giotto had to plan his work accordingly and divide the wall or the ceiling up into sections that he could do in a day. The seam between two sections remains visible.

By those seams you can tell how many days it took him or Michelangelo to paint a complete ceiling and how much they were able to do in a  day. Michelangelo very nearly lost his courage  — and his neck — when he did the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

The mosaic of the three angels visiting Abraham is by Chagall.

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Most of Fra Angelico’s great angels are on the walls of San Marco, in Florence, but he also painted on wood with colours diluted in egg:

colours diluted in water applied to wet plaster = fresco

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colours applied with egg on wood = tempera

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Q u o t e s

Marcel Proust  on the death of a writer: “They buried him, but all through the night, in the lighted windows, his books arranged three by three kept watch like angels with outspread wings and seemed, for him who was no more, the symbol of his resurrection.”

Macbeth: “Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.”

Shakespeare on Hamlet’s death:  “Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

And the most famous one from
Exodus 23-20 in English  Greek Hebrew Latin http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/poly/exo023.htm

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.”

“ecce ego mittam angelum meum qui praecedat te et custodiat in via et introducat ad locum quem paravi.”

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Etymologies

From Wikipedia: The Bible uses the terms מלאך אלהים (mal’akh Elohim; messenger of God), מלאך יהוה (mal’akh YHWH; messenger of the Lord), בני אלהים (b’nai Elohim; sons of God) and הקודשים (ha-qodeshim; the holy ones) to refer to beings traditionally interpreted as angels. Later texts use other terms, such as העליונים (ha’elyoneem; the upper ones).


>>> >> Over to Painting with Eggwhite or Yoke or Both/

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Comments»

1. Kings (aka Reyes) - December 23, 2009

Do you really think that “angelology” is a science?
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To “Kings
That would of course depend on what you mean by “really”.
!!
:-D

2. goldilocks - December 24, 2009

They’re many more angels that you haven’t said anything about

3. cantueso - December 17, 2013

I have had trouble trying to access my own blogs here, but I think that by tomorrow I will have time + leisure + luck to try again. There seem to be two ways half open now.

However, my mail server offered to send a new password to Hotmail where I had not been for 4 or 5 years, so that Hotmail had changed, and this may be the reason for that password not showing up.

Lots of things that shouldn’t happen :-(

4. Vanessa - February 15, 2014

There are some people who believe in angels, but not in God. They also believe in witchcraft and telepathy. And they are not a minority either.


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