Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday 2nd December - An Angel with Cymbals Amongst Fire

Welcome to Day Two of Angelvent, a leisurely stroll through some nice pictures of angels, with a glass of sloe gin in one hand and a mince pie in the other.  And that's just breakfast.  Anyhow, today I bring you this rather fetching angel...

An Angel with Cymbals Amongst Fire (1898) Thomas Millie Dow
Well, there you go then.  One thing I immediately noticed (other than his legs) was that the cymbals aren't attached to his hands at all, just balanced there.  That is both beautiful and precarious.  Surely he is going to drop them and then you don't want to be bending over in a skirt that short, trust me.  Mind you, being an angel, the cymbals probably just stay on his hands by celestial magic or something.

An Angel with a Lyre (1898)
Dow obviously did a nice angel, but then his work always seems to have a magical edge, with such paintings as The Kelpie (1895) which I'm sure you are familiar with even if you didn't know who it was by.  Anyway, Thomas Millie Dow has been a bit of a neglected artist until the twenty-first century.  He is mentioned in David Martin's influential book on the Glasgow Boys of 1898 (for a free copy go here) but otherwise he's not someone whose name has become household even though many of his pictures are reasonably well known.

The Herald of Winter (1894)

I've used Dow's work before in Blogvent.  In 2012 I used The Herald of Winter which is both odd and jolly in equal measure.  For Dow, the coming of Winter meant only one thing it seems, time to take to the wing.  A bit of a traveller, he started out in Fife, then studied in Paris, then travelled extensively in Canada, America, Italy and Tangiers.  A reason for his lack of posthumous fame might be the dismissive attitude of Dow's contemporary, the Scottish National Gallery Director Sir James Caw.  Caw felt Dow's work relied on 'decorative beauty as opposed to intellectual and emotional significance', and that The Herald of Spring, for example, was 'charming but inexpressive'.  Well, that's just rude.

Anyway back to the chap at the top, with his miniskirt and sandals.  When you start looking at pictures of angels, you have to start thinking about whether you are surprised when angels are portrayed as obviously male.  Now, this should not surprise me as in Victorian art an awful lot of angels are male or at least androgynous enough to be neither or both female or male at first glance.  I think my surprise comes from this...

That's your archetypal angel of Victorian-ness.  She's a pretty blonde girl in a white frock.  Then this sort of thing happens...

My apologies to Anna Davies, Karen Thompson, Val Mitchell and Joanna Martin
I would love to hear from you if your school allowed the boys to be angels.  That's me in the gold tinsel halo as I was the Angel Gabriel.  I'm not sure why we insist on little girls being the angels in the school play as it can't be about wearing a frock as the Shepherds and Kings all wore robes too.  I had great hopes of Lily being a Christmas Angel because of her lovely blonde hair but instead she was the chicken at the Nativity. There's a costume challenge for parents.  Looking back at our school Nativity, above, I remember I was dead jealous of Joanna Martin who got to be Mary, but then she had to hold hands with Joseph and we all know boys smell, so what the Lord gives with one hand, he takes with the other.

On that Biblical note I'll be off and see you tomorrow...

No comments:

Post a Comment

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