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Statue of an angel

  • Object:

    Statue

  • Place of origin:

    Île-de-France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1150-1160 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved limestone

  • Museum number:

    A.20-1929

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case WN

Angels were messengers of God and guardians of men and women. This angel decorated an inner arch above a doorway. Such figures announced the space of the church as an entrance to Heaven. The indentations on the hem of his cloak would probably have been filled with coloured material to represent jewels.

Physical description

The frontally disposed angel wears a tunic with a jewelled cloak thrown over the left shoulder,which leaves the right uncovered, and is caught up to expose the skirt of the tunic beneath. The surface of the figure is weathered at the front and there is serious pitting to the face, especially around the left eye: both hands are broken off (the left would have origianlly held a book or emblem) and the wings are missing.

Place of Origin

Île-de-France (made)

Date

ca. 1150-1160 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved limestone

Dimensions

Height: 62.5 cm, Width: 27 cm, Depth: 21 cm

Object history note

Bought from Ernest Brummer in Paris, 1929

Historical context note

There can be no doubt that the figure formerly belonged to a voussoir (one of the stones which form part of an arch or a vault, usually having the sides slightly inclined towards each other).There are very similar angels on the inner voussoirs of the central doorway of the west portal of Chartres, which may be dated 1145-1155. Like the angels of Chartres this angel is shown floating above wave-like clouds. As at Chartres this figure appears to derive from Burgundian Romanesque, some of the sculptures at Vézelay providing particularly close comparisons. The Chartres style of portal desoration spread throughout the Île-de France after the middle of the twelfth century and the porches at Etampes, Le Mans, St Ayoul at Provins, Ivry-La-Bataille, Vermenton, Angers and St Louo-de-Naud all share this common debt. Although the original location of the is at the present unknown, there can be no question that it is a product of a workshop associated or familiar with the sculptures of the west portal of Chartres: as such it is an important detached example of sculpture from the revolutionary period of French sculpture - the transition between Romanesque and Gothic.

The angels are represented throughout the Bible as a body of spiritual beings intermediate between God and men: "You have made him (man) a little less than the angels" (Psalm 8:6). They appear throughout the Old and New Testament, occurring as attendants of God, annunciators, protectors of the righteous, punishers of wrong doers, or they may be the mystic personification of God himself. They are most common however in their role as messengers for God's word. The appearance of this angel as a piece of church architecture helps reinforce the position of the church as intermediary between man and God.

Descriptive line

Statue, voussoir figure of an angel, Nothern French ca. 1150-1160.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kunz, T. Skulptur um 1200 : das Kölner Atelier der Viklau-Madonna auf Gotland und der ästhetische Wandel in der 2. Hälfte des 12. Jahrhunderts. Petersberg, 2007. pp. 210-211.

Production Note

Williamson attributes the figure the Northern France (Île-de-France)

Materials

Limestone

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Angel

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Architecture; Christianity

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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