Angels in Art: A Heavenly Collection from The Metropolitan Museum
Angels are often depicted in art as heavenly beings, often with wings, who act as messengers of God. In the Bible, angels are said to have appeared to various figures, such as Abraham and Mary. Angels also play an important role in other theologies, such as Islam. There are numerous artworks depicting angels in The Metropolitan Museum, from a wide range of cultures and religions. These artworks provide insight into how different cultures and religions have represented angels over time.
The Adoration of the Magi
This picture - at once austere and tender - belongs to a series of seven showing the life of Christ.
The masterly depiction of the stable, which is viewed from slightly below, and the columnar solidity of the figures are typical of Giotto, the founder of European painting.
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints
This painting was created by Raphael around 1504-5.
It hung in a part of the church reserved for the nuns.
The nuns sold their painting in 1678.
The Immaculate Conception
Reni, the most celebrated painter of seventeenth-century Italy, was particularly famous for the elegance of his compositions and the beauty and grace of his female heads, earning him the epithet "Divine."
This altarpiece, with its otherworldly space shaped by clouds and putti in a high-keyed palette, was commissioned in about 1627 by the Spanish ambassador in Rome for the Infanta of Spain.
It later hung in the cathedral of Seville, where it exercised a deep influence on Spanish painters, especially Murillo.
Christ Carrying the Cross, called "The Lord of the Fall"
This work belongs to the genre of "statue painting," that is, painted simulacra of sacred images.
As a "true likeness" of a cult image, it was believed to possess the miraculous powers of the original, a sculpture of Christ the Nazarene venerated in the Cusco church of San Francisco.
The effectiveness of this type of painting depended on its veracity, a demand that led to the depiction not only of sculptures, but the altars and shrines where they were venerated.
Segment of a Crozier Shaft
Croziers, sometimes made of ivory, were important symbols of the authority of the Western Church.
This ivory formed part of the shaft of a crozier that was surmounted either by a crook or a T-shaped cross known as a tau.
The shaft segment is divided into four horizontal bands.
At the top is Jesus enthroned and surrounded by the Elders of the Apocalypse
The enthroned Virgin and Child appear on the opposite side.
Angels dressed as clergy populate the two central registers.
The lowest register depicts the heavenly investiture of the bishop, for whom this crozier perhaps was made.
This painting, which most likely was intended as a single, private devotional panel, combines the depiction of the Nativity and the Adoration of the Shepherds as described in both biblical and mystical literature.
It probably dates from the early 1480s, before David established himself in Bruges.
The homely and naive figure types and the geometric simplification of the heads of the Virgin and angels reflect models the artist knew from his early training in the northern Netherlands.
The Last Judgment
This majestic scene is divided into heavenly and earthly zones, which are linked by two hovering angels blowing trumpets.
Christ appears at the moment of judgment in a burst of light and color, surrounded by clouds and putti and flanked by the apostles.
He blesses the saved, shown at lower left, while Saint Michael shepherds the damned into hell burning in the distance at the right.