Thursday, 15 December 2016

Thursday 15th December - The Soul of the Forest

One more working day before I break up for Christmas and I can't wait.  I was in a major supermarket at some unlikely time this morning (I have to get to work by 6.30am) and had the pleasure of hearing one of the employees respond rather too honestly to one of the songs playing on the tannoy. "Step into Christmas, the admission's free!" sang Elton John.  "No it isn't," replied the most honest employee ever, in a tone that I think we all have at the end of our Christmas shopping.  On that note, on with Angelvent...

The Soul of the Forest (1898) Edgar Maxence
Say hello to my new favourite artist (well, certainly for today), Edgar Maxence (1871-1954), a French Symbolist who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Elie Delauney and Gustave Moreau.  When I first saw this image I didn't notice they were angels because of the amazing multi-coloured wings, but the halo and the incense make this an unusual and very beautiful religious painting.

Serenity (1912)
Many of his works tend to deal with spirituality and belief, like our praying girl in medieval dress.  It does become a little bit cliched to have the ice-white pure maiden in the freezing cold Middle Ages, however Maxence delivers it with such skill that I forgive him.  Also, he's responsible for the following stunner, which makes him rather brilliant in my book...

The Woman of Lorchidee
Look at her with her fag on.  She's no angel but I love how louche she appears to be.  Marvellous.  Mind you, this is Angelvent not Louchevent so I best get on...

A Woman
There is a bit of a blurry line in Maxence's work between women, angels and more folklore inspired fairies or sprites.  I think that the white in the above picture are dragonfly wings, but she holds her hands in a holy manner, crossed like an angel in a school nativity.  Going back to our original image of the forest angels, no angel I have come across so far has wings like a parrot, but that doesn't mean they aren't angels.

The Ethereal or The Divine Head
Edgar Maxence was a man who was obviously comfortable with religious iconography.  He painted the choir vaulted ceiling in Basilica of the Rosary at Lourdes and illustrated a book by the Bishop of Nantes on Joan of Arc. He also had no problem in combining aspects of folklore into his religious mix, hence exotic winged creatures treasure the soul of the forest and women with horns are mischievous fauns.

Faunesse (1907)
For many people it seems religion is very excluding and rigid.  It would appear nonsense to believe someone can have parrot angels and fauns and be a catholic.  Obviously Mr Maxence found a way and that's marvellous. Angels with parrot wings are the way of the future if you ask me, it would certainly liven up the school nativity.  Also, I'm guessing they are a bit more forgiving of the dirt than your traditional white plumage.  Not that you have any business getting grubby wings if you are an angel. If you are up for mischief, may I suggest you go with the horns instead...

See you tomorrow...


  1. Dear Kirsty
    An unknown artist to me, so thank you for introducing us. I do like the colours in the first painting, although the angel at the front looks a bit unimpressed - perhaps s/he (I think it is a she due to the rather Art Nouveau hairdo) is is too close to the incense and it's a bit strong. The angel behind her looks a bit like Patricia Hodge...
    Best wishes


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx