Friday, 9 December 2016

Friday 9th December - Angeli Ministrantes

Thank all the Wombats, it's Friday! I'm rather tired today, I don't know about you, but tomorrow is the weekend so let's crack on with today's angelic offering...

Angeli Ministrantes (1878) Edward Burne-Jones
To misquote Little Women, Christmas won't be Christmas without any Burne-Jones and here we have two rather statuesque examples of his angelic figures, here to minter to our needs, to look after us.  I suppose that is what is known as a 'guardian angel' in a way, someone who will look after us in a lieu of our parents...

Guardian Angel (1900) Unknown German Artist
Lawks, tiny munchkins on a rickety bridge!  If the angel can make herself useful and mend the bridge whilst she's there, that would be great, otherwise she's just wafting about looking glow-y.  I suppose in 1900 there was very little in the way of street lighting, especially in the middle of threatening rural areas and it's not like the little girl can get her mobile phone out of her basket and double-shake the torch on.  I do wonder where the parents of this pair are though - and they say parents these days are lax.  I rarely make my daughter wander across derelict bridges in the middle of nowhere.  Also, in 1900 there was quite enough dangers surrounding childhood without adding more.  Well done little children, you've managed to survive all manner of childhood illnesses and industrial accidents and malnutrition.  Now walk around at night across a bridge with half its boards missing.  Come on Parents, it's not the Hunger Games, a tad more care please.  Possibly Angels were the Social Services of the Victorian era?

Tapestry of Angeli Ministrantes (1894)
Anyway, back to Burne-Jones.  Angeli Ministrantes and the companion piece Angeli Laudantes (Praising Angels) were originally conceived as stained glass windows for the south choir of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire.  Burne-Jones listed them as '4 colossal and sublime figures of angels' and they were so popular that they were bought for other churches as well.  Later, they were turned into tapestries by John Dearle at the Merton Abbey Workshop of Morris & Co, who added the background and border details.

Tapestry of Angeli Laudantes (1894)
If we are to start ranking angels in terms of usefulness, attractiveness and impressiveness, then Burne-Jones angels are about as good as it gets.  They look capable, imposing, no-nonsense.  I was about to say they are the Tesco Finest of the angel world but no, they are even better than that.  They are the Waitrose 1 of the angel world.  That's pretty bloody good, that's 'leaving the packet out on the side for everyone to see' good.  If I have a criticism, and it is only a very minor one, then I think they have far too much in terms of robes.  Aesthetically, it's glorious, but I'm being practical here. That is a lot of fabric draped about which begs the question how do they do anything?  How do they play the instruments or even walk half the time with the amount of layers and layers they seem to be swathed in.  Possibly it gets chilly when they are about their angel business.  Personally I might be tempted to give them one less layer but a pair of fleece-lined boots.

Oh, and how do wings and robes work? Do you have holes in the back of the robes to put your wings through?  That's how it works at Build-a-Bear with My Little Pony Rainbow Dash.  But the angel wings look huge and so there would have to be some sort of split that you could then do up.  Do they have velcro in heaven...?

On that deep ecumenical question, I'll be off and see you tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. Burne Jones's angels may not be among the most frightening, but they are surely the best dressed.


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