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What angels speak about: wonderful wings in art of old and modern artists

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Angel-like creatures bringing delight and hope could be depicted by artists in their artworks absolutely unexpectedly. The keys to their mysterious existence are hidden in fairy tales, myths, legends, the Bible, astrology and even in the eastern philosophy. During our journey to the heavenly sphere we would like to draw you attention to the classical images of the angel-like creatures with wings and the most trailblazing experiments of artists; from Albreht Durer and Edward Burne-Jones to James C. Christensen and Viktor Vasnetsov. Let’s start!
You think these two lovely creatures are discussing their dresses and hairstyles chanting the praises of each other but you are wrong. These two pretty angels are discussing the Botticelli’s artworks. They resemble leprawns and appear from the wonderland created by James C. Christensen, a modern and well known American fairy tale artist.
Rich imagination of James C. Christensen has created a whimsical world of fairy tale characters; we can find there leprechauns and humpback gnomes, princesses and beasts, mermaids and dwarfs and flying fish. Thousands of small details make people spend long hours standing in front of the artworks scrutinizing them. The Christensen’s fairy tale characters are mystifying and bring you back to childhood and his angels are the embodiment of timeless values and present with faith, hope and charity.
I have always preferred to paint angels as beautiful winged women. I strongly feel that the feminine side of human nature communicates angelic qualities- peace, encouragement, support and unconditional love-in many ways, that which we get from our mothers, — James C. Christensen
James Christensen. Angel and two fairies
James Christensen. Angel and three demons
While traveling in Umbria artist James Christensen was inspired by the medieval architecture of the region and painted the piece the Angels of My Village.

"In my mind it was kind of a thank-you painting for the feelings that we’re not alone. I think we need to remember that we do have angels watching over us. Even if you live in New York City, you have your village. I know every single person within three blocks of me. We help one another and are the angels for one another. We are the angels of our villages."
We enjoy Christensen’s angels eyeing their mysterious and wonderful images and then angels by Michael Parkes are full of mysteries which are needed to be solved. We have to find the answers in ancient myths, legends, the eastern philosophy and pre-Christian beliefs. Michael Parkes had traveled a lot before he became to his mind a conscious artist. Searching wisdom he visited Europe and then India, Nepal and Pakistan. In India he studied philosophy and esoterics of East and West and then embodied his knowledge in mysterious artworks.

A Word from Michael: For humanity it is the perpetual grinding forward of linear time and karma that dictates our lives and lifetimes. Yet, the angel that stops time waits at any moment to give us freedom. Freedom not from death, because death is part of the chain of time, but freedom from ourselves. Most of us have had at least one small moment when time stopped and all was seen with exquisite clarity.

Michael Parkes. Moon and butterflies

Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature being associated with a female strength, nobleness and beauty. According to Parkes the legend about her is older than stories of ancient Greece and Vedic texts. What is she hunting in the piece of art? Diana embodies the energy of stars and her harvesting is the darkness of the night.


In all his artworks Parkes depicts the everlasting fight between good and evil though it was not always evident. Eastern and Western doctrines proclaim victory of beauty and harmony like all Parkes’s female characters with wings.

Parkes is an American-born artist and sculptor who is best known for work in the areas of fantasy art and magic realism and his artworks with dream-like images depict the world of a timeless circle of life without past and future, just birth, death and rebirth.
The Good Angel by English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement George Watts was the result of his devotion to astrology, spiritualism, studying of the Universe and his friendship with Sir John Herschel, an astrologer. Some years ago after the artwork had been finished the artist called it The All-Pervading in the exhibition catalog.

According to his wife the conception and idea of the artwork appeared when the artist examined the effects of light on a piece of glass on the chandelier in his studio on Malta. A crystal ball with the reflections of light from shooting stars was the beginning of the painting. The all-pervading glance of the angel gives him the power of prophesy, knowledge of the future and reveals the secrets of the Universe.
Louis Janmot was a French painter and poet. He dedicated all his life to a series of thirty-four paintings called ‘The poem of the soul'. The paintings are accompanied by a long poem on the same subject. The artist was born and raised in the Catholic family. His beloved brother and sister died one after another when he was young. Their deaths impressed young Louis and in his poem and artworks he depicted a soul traveling around the Earth and its elevating to the Heavens. Janmot has been seen as a transitional figure between Romanticism and Symbolism
Exquisite still-lifes and marvelous plants on canvases: flowers do not only beautify the appearance, but also open secret meanings, and convey messages to the attentive researcher. Leafing through captivating Herbarium, we're examining enigmatic garden of flower symbols.

Read more Symbolism (фр. Symbolisme) is an art movement that has been reflected in painting, literature and music. It emerged in the 1870s-80s in France, later spread to Belgium, Norway and the Russian Empire. It reached the peak of popularity at the turn of the XІX-XX centuries. Symbolism is characterized by sadness, introspection and understatement: as if the author came to quiet despair, but was too shy to talk about these feelings, so he painted them.



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, prefiguring the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Nazarenes.
Gustave Moreau was a major figure in French Symbolism
Exquisite still-lifes and marvelous plants on canvases: flowers do not only beautify the appearance, but also open secret meanings, and convey messages to the attentive researcher. Leafing through captivating Herbarium, we're examining enigmatic garden of flower symbols.

Read more Symbolism (фр. Symbolisme) is an art movement that has been reflected in painting, literature and music. It emerged in the 1870s-80s in France, later spread to Belgium, Norway and the Russian Empire. It reached the peak of popularity at the turn of the XІX-XX centuries. Symbolism is characterized by sadness, introspection and understatement: as if the author came to quiet despair, but was too shy to talk about these feelings, so he painted them.



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admiring the ancient arts whose emphasis was the biblical and mythological subjects. In his artwork the Hesiod and the Muse he paid tribute to the Greek culture. Moreau depicted Hesiod, the first Greek written poet who had performed Greek songs which had been called rhapsodes. According to the legend nymphs appeared before a young shepherd and endowed him with the talent of making spiritual verses. They gave him a rod of laurel as a distinction of a rhapsode. Moreau depicted a poet crowned with a laureate wreath and accompanied by the angel, his Muse.
Edward Burne-Jones, a British artist and designer closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement had intended to become a church minister when he studied theology at Exeter College, Oxford. Later in his artworks he realized the subject of the timeless fight between sin and salvation in the images of angels.
Burne-Jones was inspired by the Christian legends. Two years before his death he wrote that he had always kept in mind the story about the Holy Grail and according to him it was the most beautiful one he had ever heard about.
Now it is time to call on a lady to speak. Evelyn De Morgan was an English painter whose works were influenced by the style of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and little wonder, she inherited her gift from her uncle John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, a Pre-Raphaelist. The girl was the youngest student of Slade School of Fine Art and then she went to her uncle who lived in Rome that time. After she had adopted the best practices there she returned to London and created beautiful artworks. Several of her works are exhibited at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum.
The painting The Dawn Aurora Triumphans by Evelyn De Morgan features Roman goddess of the dawn reclining covered with pink roses. Son of Merton Russell-Cotes, a well-known collector, bought it for the museum in around 1922 thinking that it was a Burne-Jones original painting after an unscrupulous art dealer had painted over the signature with Burne-Jones' initials to get a higher price. The act was not angel-like at all.
We can hear the sound of angel’s wings watching Gustave Doré's woodcuts and engravings; Vincent van Gogh called him a people’s painter. He illustrated the Bible and a lot of books dedicated to mysticism with angels as their characters like Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1875). The Old Mariner narrated about hid adventures; the ship ran into a gale and eventually reached Antarctic waters. Then an albatross a bearer of good news appeared and led them out of the ice jam where they were stuck but the Mariner shot the bird with his cross-bow and he was cursed for that. Though salvation would come when angels appeared in the Sky.
Let’s continue our mysterious adventure. In 1904 Mikhail Vrubel painted The Six-winged Seraph (Azrael) on the themes of Alexander Pushkin’s poem The Prophet.

Longing for spiritual springs,
I dragged myself through desert sands …
An angel with three pairs of wings
Arrived to me at cross of lands;
With fingers so light and slim
He touched my eyes as in a dream:
And opened my prophetic eyes
Like eyes of eagle in surprise.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, January 1996,


At the time Mikhail Vrubel experienced a crisis moment in his life. He had a severe nervous breakdown and was hospitalized in a mental clinic. He got off the topic of the devil having tormented the artist and depriving his mental and physical power. That time Vrubel painted Seraph, the angel drawn near the Lord’s altar and able to bring enlightenment.
As far as we involved so serious subjects in our "angel" investigation, let’s recollect The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Pieter Bruegel the Elder; his masterpiece depicts the fight between angels and Apocalypse. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium has recently published its research work dedicated to this landmark artwork.

We can only say that "hybrids" of half-angels and half-monsters were created not just for fun but thoughtfully designed in scrupulous compliance with naturalia (what was created by nature) and artificalia (what was man-made). Due to the above the picture conveys the impression of a Mindbending Kunstkamera museum. Though the Angels, true Angels, are wonderful.
At the same time the image of angel for us embodies the triumph of Light. The characters of angels are amazing and wonderful in the artworks by Viktor Vasnetsov. Viktor Vasnetsov was commissioned to paint frescoes in the St Volodymyir’s Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine and had been working there for 11 years creating 15 artworks. Pavel Trtyakov purchased his sketches. The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow holds them nowadays. He worked hard with his sketches for St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral and one of the most significant among them was the painted cardboard drum of the dome of the main three-part composition The Joy in the Lord, the Righteous. Vasnetsov accomplished his work with the frescoes in the St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in 1896.
Nino Chakvetadze, a modern Georgian artist, lives in the world of a childhood imagination and believes that angels descend from the Heavens during the Christmas time.

The artist’s imagination goes far beyond the traditional view on the angel-like creatures with wings; it looks like the Muse angels take them under their wings and inspire to new findings.


Whatever images the artists depict in their angel paintings, we believe in Christian traditions that angels are sent to us bringing Love, Hope and Charity.

Though, if you think that the characters are too sweet then we can offer you a masterpiece depicting the angel and signed AD, Albreht Durer. It is a sketch, so we forgive this cherub to be a little bit angry rather than upset.
.. Even in our imagination we cannot embrace all the angels depicted by the artists. Then be patient, visit Arthive galleries and read news and releases about the artworks depicting angels. Merry mood for you!
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 Comments  4
Tata Yakunina
, January 15, 2015 02:43 PM 3
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Прекрасная статья.
Oxana Smirnova
Oxana Smirnova
, January 5, 2017 10:46 PM 0
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what a beauty!!!
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Julia Nekrasova
Julia Nekrasova
, January 25, 2017 05:03 PM 0
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Specify, please, that between "Plot No. 8" Nino Chakvetadze and "Crying angel" by Albrecht Durer - work Gapchinska :)
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Polina Borzova
, June 12 06:51 PM 0
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Отличная статья!
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