Angels with The Ramparts of Heaven

William Blake Richmond1891/1904

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

Opaque glass mosaic, designed by William Blake Richmond, executed by Messrs Powell of Whitefriars, completed by 1904

Three saucer-domes can be found in each of the two quire aisles. They were created during the later phase of the decoration efforts. The figures and composition is even more reduced and stylised than that of the earlier pictures created for the main part of the quire. Photographs of the stained-glass windows that once were part of Richmond’s decorative cycle show that they also showed legions of angels.

All these pictures feature symmetry and repetition as key decorative element. As a result they can be absorbed either as a colourful background pattern, but will reveal their meaning through the varying attributes: the objects held by the angels, their lavish wings and their backdrops are unique to each of the six mosaics: in the Minor Canons’ Aisle boats and anchors, brass horns, shields and swords, and agricultural tools and wheat sheaves feature (mosaic nos 7796, 7800-7801); in the Dean’s Aisle fortifications and scrolls, violins and flowers, and vines can be seen (mosaic nos 7803 to 7805). Some of these attributes relate to passages in the Book of Revelation, which is also the source for the imagery of the main mosaics of the apse.

Brief description: circular, symmetrical mosaic; depicting angels as young men in white tunics, placed on each of the main axis of the circle; each of the angels holds a scroll; the four sections between the angels are decorated with arcades and white towers with crenulated walls.

Related quotes:

Revelation 21:10-13: "And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (NRSV)

Literature and references: Zech 2015, pp. 7, 43 ill.

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  • Title: Angels with The Ramparts of Heaven
  • Creator: Sir William Blake Richmond
  • Date Created: 1891/1904
  • Location: St Paul's Cathedral Quire Aisle


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