Monday, 5 December 2016

Monday 5th December - Ecce Ancilla Domini!

Into our second Angelvent week and I hope you are all beginning to feel festive.  I have to make a 'shedload' of mince pies later (official measurement) as both of Lily's grandparents are coming tomorrow for her 11th birthday.  Best get on with today's entry...

Ecce Ancilla Domini! (1849-50) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I thought I'd pick a more obscure one for today.  Only joking, this is probably the most familiar angel picture to you but looking at it in terms of a depiction of Gabriel, it has some very interesting differences to what we've seen so far.

Sketch of Mary from Ecce Ancilla Domini!
When I look at this picture, as I have on many occasions, I have to admit that I'm normally looking at the figure of the Virgin Mary, as modelled by Christina Rossetti.  Her curled position on the little bed draws the eye and she doesn't look best pleased about the whole Holy Baby malarky.  I know it is meant to be all that Medieval perspective stuff, but the slanting of the bed always makes me feel like she desperately trying not to slide down it.  Poor old Mary, parenthood isn't easy at the best of times but she really did have it a bit rough. Anyway, back to old flame-y feet...

Angel feet!
Rossetti chose feet over feathers and so Gabriel has no wings, but instead his feet have pale fire licking up the sides.  It makes me think of Hermes, although his shoes were winged, but still it is that classical, speedy walker-between-worlds vibe he seems to be carrying.  Something else I didn't notice is that the Angel Gabriel is swanning about in a tabard - his frock is open at the sides.  That has to be chilly but then when you are one of God's messengers I suppose you have your own ways of keeping warm, plus his feet are on fire so I suppose it all balances out. 

William Michael Rossetti (1865) Julia Margaret Cameron
Also, the figure of Gabriel was modelled on William Michael, the artist's brother.  One of the shocking things for the Victorian audience was that Gabriel is very obviously nude and made of nice pink fleshiness, which is all a bit saucy as he goes about brandishing his lily at ladies in their beds.  Well, really!  But then I am brought to the realisation that we are looking at William Michael Rossetti's pink bits.  It's obviously the young and rather nicely built WMR and not the older, stroppy, controlling WMR, but still it feels rather wrong to be looking at his flaps, if you excuse the impression.

Yes, I think I will leave you with William Michael Rossetti's Holy flaps, and I'm off to make mince pies.  See you tomorrow!

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