Angels of the renaissance


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The age of the Renaissance was the age of rebirth. It was a time when the world woke up and recognized itself, Artist broke from the reigns of the Church and interpreted the world as they saw it. However, religious images did not go away but did have meanings of their own. Angels have appeared in the bible during the most important events from the Garden of Eden to the blowing of the trumpets in Revelation. Angels were also very common figures used in paintings and works of art during the Renaissance. The Renaissance artists, like angels, were messengers who clearly signify that times had changed. Lets take hold of the wings of the angels of the Renaissance to see what the artists had to say!

The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise, Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia), 1445, From the collection of: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...Before you can discuss rebirth that has to be a new birth. In this painting di Paolo using a medium of tempura and gold paint on wood, depicts the creation of the world. The story of Adam and Eve also shares this scene as they are being ushered out of the Garden of Eve. The angels are shown as participants of both events. Giovanni di Paolo was an Italian artist who was known to study the arts of other well-known artists, one of them being Gentile de Fabriano. Gentile was known for using sprigs of flowering plants in his works which may have been the inspiration for the floral elements of the Garden of Eden scene.
Venus, Lorenzo Costa the Elder, ca. 1515–1518, From the collection of: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Renaissance artists were known to get back in touch with their Greek side. Venus is certainly no angel. However, as the goddess of love she was the object of many of the Renaissance artists' affection. There was no shame in their game as interest in the human form encouraged the embracing of nudity. The Medium includes oil painting. Contrapposto(standing pose with hip bent and weight shifted on right leg) is an element used by artist Lorenzo Costa in this painting. Costa was an Italian painter famously known for his frescoes on the walls of the Bentivoglios chapel in San Giacomo Maggiore. In regards to the Venus, Costa projected nudity which was a popular element of the Renaissance artist.
Saint Michael; Above, Angel Gabriel, Workshop of Lorenzo Monaco, early 1420s, From the collection of: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The Renaissance believed in humanism even that of the angels who were created to be a little above man. This panel list two angels who are known by their names. Names personalizes beings and bring them to "real" life. Speaking of names, this Italian painter changed his name from Piero di Giovanni to Lorenzo Monaco when he entered the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in 1391. The medium is tempera and gold leaf paint on wood.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562, From the collection of: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Angels...they are not human but some did fall. As a Dutch artist Bruegel was known for his religious paintings also depicting peasant images. This painting presents a violent scene of battle between angels. This painted reflected a 3D effect with this battle and the medium used is paint on oak wood. The angels appear to transform into horrific and distorted creatures as they descended from glory. Perhaps, artist Pieter Bruegel was influenced by the conflict occurring at the time of this painting when the Calvinist rebelled against the principles of the Edict of Blood signed in 1550. Like the fallen angels the Calvinist were not moved by the risk of death which was the penalty for heresy against the Catholic church. Pieter Bruegel was considered the greatest member of a prominent family of the Netherlands. The title "the Elder" does not signify his role in the church but was used to distinguished a father from the son, just as we use senior and junior today.
Melencolia I, Albrecht Dürer, 1514, From the collection of: National Gallery of Victoria
This painting is an intaglio or engraving that is one of three of series known as Meisterstiche or Master Engravings. The winged creature is not an angel but melancholy. The German artist, Albrecht Durer wanted to portray the struggle of the artists of that time. Zoom in closer and you will find this is a actual self portrait of Durer. The tool in his hand is a geometric tool which is one of the liberal arts that was known to undermine creativity. Durer recognized the risk that came with his talent and concentrated on the balance between spiritualism. Ironically, Durer's style was more influenced by the Gothic period but according to this engraving it may not have been his true expression.
Little angel with dolphin, Andrea del Verrocchio, around 1470, From the collection of: Palazzo Vecchio Museum
This cheerful creature often confused with cherubims, is a mythical creature known as a putto which is a chubby male figure depicted in many Renaissance artworks. The artist Andrea del Verrocchio was an Italian sculptor and painter. There is very little known about his life but his works did reflect the style of the Renaissance. Verrocchio sculpted this bronze figure with indricate detail. The delight on this puttos face as he holds on to the slippery dolphin is an example of how the Renaissance artist were determined to break away from the stiffness of the Gothic period. The nudity of the putto is another characteristic of the Renaisance. Verrochio was the a nickname give to the artist which means "true eye". He was known to have taught other great artist such as Leonardo da Vinci and Pietro Purugino.
Angels played an important role in one of the most important events in the bible. The art work involves the Angel Gabriel's annunciation of the birth of Christ to Mary. Italian painter Taddeo Crivelli portrayed his interpretation of the moment with tempera colors and gold paint on parchment. This work of art gives a more contemporary spend as Mary kneels on a tiled black and white floor. Along with his colorful exhibitions, Crivelli's was also known for his illuminations.
The Sistine Madonna, Raphael, 1512 - 1513, From the collection of: Old Masters Picture Gallery, Dresden State Art Museums
There is a curtain but this scene is no act. The two angels at the bottom are observers in this scene as St Sixtus and St Barbara basks in the glory of the Madonna and child. The famous artist known as Raphael has a simple name but is known by his complex works of art. Raphael's work was so well noted that he was asked to paint the walls of the papal apartments. This work of art now displayed in Germany's Gemaldegalerie museum, was thought to be created for decorations of the tomb of Julius II.
Musical Angel, Rosso Fiorentino, Around 1522, From the collection of: Uffizi Gallery
This is one of my favorite paintings by Italian Rosso Fiorentino. Rosso used an oil paint on panel medium creating bright primary colors of white, yellow and red. He presented a natural portrayal of an angel engaged in thumbing tunes on a well known Renaissance instrument called a lute. Rosso was given the birth name of Giovanni Battista di Jacopo but later nicknamed Rosso Fiorentino which means "red Florentine" in reference to his red hair. Hence the inspiration for this red headed angel.
Tomb of John Sauvage (Juan Selvaggio): attendant angel with the coat of arms of Charles I, Alonso Berruguete y Felipe Bigarny, 1520, From the collection of: Museo de Zaragoza
I chose this piece because of its awkwardness and wanted to get insight on the background. This is supposedly a dual effort of sculptors Alonso Berruguete and Felipe Bigarny. There are no facts on the details of each scupltors contribution but Berrugete was known for his emotive religious scupltures. On the other hand, Bigarny was a very busy artist who made a huge contribution to many religious sights including tombs and chapels. At one point he delivered a total of 26 scupltures to the Palencia Catherdral in Spain. This marble work called "Angel with a Coat of Arms" was said to be created for the tomb of Charles I of England. It is difficult to interpret. But considering the angel is wearing a coat of arms I imagine with his head down and his legs braced that he is in the mist of gaining momentum to open his wings in anticipation of a fierce battle.
Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, Albrecht Dürer, 1505, From the collection of: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
German painter Albrecht Durer presents an angelic image of a Venetian woman. One of the common characteristics of the Renaissance era was the use of real human expression. This portrait was painted during his second return to Italy and is a clear example of his stepping away from the stoic faces of the Gothic paintings. Durer seemed to have done his best work while in Italy as he admits in a letter to one of his friends "In Italy I am a gentleman but in Germany I am a parasite". This portrait done in oil paint on wood shows a fair skinned woman dressed in a beautiful gold toned dress. There is delicate detail of her hair as the blond highlighted curls fall lightly to the sides of her face and the rest neatly gathered in a bun by a net. This detail is clear evidence of Durer's feeling of freedom in his environment.
Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels, Carlo Crivelli, Italian (active Venice and Marches), first documented 1457, died 1495/1500, c. 1472, From the collection of: Philadelphia Museum of Art
He could have called 10,000 angels but here there are only two helpless ones. Although considered a Late Gothic, Italian painter Carlo Crivelli showed his Renaissance style by depicting this gruesome scene of two childlike angels with grief striven expressions as they appear to try to awake the dead Savior. The graphic portrayal of the dilapedated corpse would have been frowned upon by his Gothic critics. This is a classic example of realism as many children unfamiliar with the finality of death would most likely react.
Death of the Virgin, Hans Holbein the Elder, ca. 1491, From the collection of: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
This rarely depicted scene of the impending death of Mary is the genius work of painter Hans Holbein the Elder. I feel this scene is a perfect capture of a hospice moment. Mary is being attended to by figures who goals is to make her comfortable as possible. The disciples are depicted with halos and there are angels who appear to be waiting to escort Mary to paradise. The aritst even went as far as giving a glimpse of the same moment in heaven which shows Jesus with his arms outstretched as if to welcome his mother to heaven. The garment colors are bold and the the realistic facial expressions clearly portray worry and sadness. Holbein is a German painter known for his richly colored religious paintings. He was known as one of the pioneers that land the German artists into the Renaissance age.
The Wall of Metals and Jewels Surrounding Angels and Saints, Simon Marmion, 1475, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
I think I'm going to run to see what the end will be. Every Christians dream is to make it to the pearly gates. This figure has done just that but there is a catch. This is a illuminated manuscript by French artist Simon Marmion. Marmion was best known for his illuminated manuscripts so much that he was referred to as "the prince of illuminators". The manuscript is a story written by an Irish monk named Marcus who chronicles the journey of a character named Tondal who through a deep dream visits hell, heaven and purgatory. This scene of Heaven is one of many of the illuminations from Tondal's journey. Here Tondal is escorted to a wall in heaven adorned with precious jewels. Tondal is so moved by the decorated wall he begs to stay. However, the angel sends him back to earth to report what he saw. Tondal wakes up, take communion, donate all his earthly goods to the poor and orders crosses to wear with every garment. The initials CM detailed in gold are the initials of Burgundy duchess Margaret York and her husband Charles the Bold. The medium includes tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint and ink on parchment paper.
Bow-carving Amor, Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino, 1534/1535, From the collection of: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
THE END! What better way to END this gallery with a painting of Amor or Cupid the wing goddess of love. In this painting Italian painter Francesco Mazzola exposes the back side of Amor using oil paint on a wood medium. In this piece of art, Amor is sharpening his bow in preparation for another love victim. Amor's shots were known to spread both joy and pain which may be represented by the two puttos showing between his legs. One with a sheepish grin and the other grimacing in pain. Amor seems to pose for the painting with his head turned back at the observer and his left foot prop upon a stack of books. The pale flesh of Amor shows off smooth lines and gives an illuminating effect. The Bow-carving Amor is a very popular piece of art and was finally acquired by Emperor Rudolf who desperately and successfully got the painting from a Spanish king through an agent deal. The only ending factor of this piece is Amor's hindside as this picture was known to play a major role in developing this style of mannerisim. There were approximately 50 known copies made of this painting. Mazzola gain early recognition with his frescos displayed in the church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma. He was known to take risk but was always praised for his pieces as some compared him to artist Raphael calling him "Raphael reborn". I hope you have enjoyed this Angelic adventure and pray that your own Guardian angels keep you safe.
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