Tuesday, 4 December 2012

4th December - Angel Playing a Flageolet

It had to happen.  It was somewhat inevitable that this image would appear here, sooner or later....

Angel Playing a Flageolet (1878) Edward Burne Jones
I can't explain how much trouble I had spelling 'flageolet', because I got it confused with the type of bean and it just looked wrong.  Anyway, beans aside, this is one of many angels playing instruments that Burne-Jones painted.  This pretty angel is  presented in gold and tempera, a combination of pigment with water and egg yolk, popular in the renaissance and laden with the spirit of the Pre-Raphaelites.  Unlike other practitioners of tempera, not mentioning any names or buildings in Oxford, Burne-Jones seems to have had an understanding of the medium and this is a beautiful example of a tempera work.  He must have felt some great attachment to this particular angel as he kept it in his studio for 10 years before releasing it to a dealer, where it was snapped up immediately.

An Angel (1881) Edward Burne-Jones
Angels Separating Heaven from Earth (1873) Burne-Jones in a church in Rome
I got to be the Angel Gabriel once in a school nativity (I got the gold tinsel halo) and Lily has great hopes of being cast as an angel, however so far she has only managed the dizzy heights of 'the Chicken of Christmas'. Don't ask.  There is something Christmas-y about our winged protectors, but I suppose this is the season when they come into their own.  All year they flutter about, being lovely and strumming harps and the suchlike, but then, bam!  Christmas and it all kicks off.  They have to tell Virgins they are pregnant (although I guess that actually happened somewhen around February or March, to be in time for Christmas) and they appear to shepherds and all sorts.  In my lovely nativity sets, I always love the angels the best, taking care to Bluetack them to the top of the stable, because they never stand up on their own.  I feel that aspect of a crib scene is never thought through because none of mine came with a stable, so one needs to be knocked-up from a shoebox.  Lily has a Playmobil one which is brilliant...

The angel stands up!  The slightly sacrilegious aspect of it was the Baby Jesus took it upon himself to thunder about on the donkey, knocking over the Kings, causing my daughter to exclaim 'The Baby Jesus is so naughty!'

I'm hoping Father Christmas doesn't hold it against her....


  1. Gorgeous things! Though "flageolet" sounds a bit kinky.

  2. Hence my checking and double-checking. I didn't want to talk about an Angel playing a Flagellation...

  3. Flagellating angels...

    At least it's not being called a recorder. I get terribly upset when it gets called a recorder.

  4. I would have gone with 'trumpet-y thing' because I'm musical and the suchlike. And you wouldn't want to flagellate with that, it looks like it would be a bit painful. Mind you, I guess that might be the point...


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