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Angels with Wheat Sheaves

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 mosaic which is symmetric with regard to its centre; depicting angels in armour as young men, placed on each of the main axes of the circle; each of the angels holding an agricultural tool: a basket, a pair of shears, a scythe, and staffs; the four sections between the angels each with a group of bound up wheat sheaves between flowers and a mountainous landscape



Related quotes: “The second angels blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” (Revelation 8:8-9)



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

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