Saturday, 10 December 2016

Saturday 10th December - And Lo the Angel of the Lord Came Upon Them

I'm not feeling fully festive until I have decked my halls (not a euphemism) and dressed my tree (probably a euphemism) so I have a day in festive limbo left because all that happens tomorrow.  Today I have my daughter's low-key birthday party, which is a lovely opportunity to catch up with friends who we don't see as often as we'd like (and also give out some cards).  Anyway, on with today's angel...

'And lo the Angel of the Lord came upon them' John Crompton
Actually, this is one of a pair, so it should look like this...

So, on the left we have 'And lo the Angel of the Lord came upon them' and on the right is 'And the glory of the Lord shone round above them and they were sore afraid' by the artist John Crompton. On the ArtUK site they give his dates as 1877-1918, but sometimes they are just the working dates rather than life span.  Having failed to find an artist with those dates, I wonder if this is in fact the work of John Crompton, principle of Heatherley's Art School.  Crompton, born in the 1850s in Bolton (where the two pictures above are held), was the nephew of Thomas Heatherley and succeeded him as head of the school.  Heatherley's seems to have been a cross between the Royal Academy and The Old Curiosity Shop, filled with wonderful things...
Mr Heatherley's Holiday: An Incident in Studio Life (1874) Samuel Butler
Under Heatherley, the pupil listings boast artists such as Millais, Rossetti and Burne-Jones, and there is a rather good article about it here.  If our John Crompton is the same John Crompton (which seems likely), he looked like this...

John Crompton (1896) John Seymour Lucas
Bon Pantalon, Mr Crompton! Why he is in a sort of 'doublet and hose' get up is anyone's guess, but he cuts a fine figure. I begin to suspect they were a rum lot over at Heatherley's, but that's what happens when you let women study at your school at an equal footing to men.  Anyway, back to our paintings...

The angel is quite manly for someone wearing  cross-your-heart, strap-on wings.  That's the way I wore mine for my school nativity.  He has the traditional pointy finger in case his descent from heaven, enormous wings and cherubic orchestra wasn't clue enough. He's actually quite intimidating and so I'm not surprised they were 'sore afraid'.  Is that being so frightened it actually hurts?  Flipping heck...

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds (1833) Thomas Cole
This is a far less terrifying version of the scene for contrast - Cole gives us a wifty-wafty cloud lady who seems to be entertaining the shepherds, not scaring the giblets out of them. I'd be more afraid of that ruddy big star in the background.

Crompton's lot do look a bit more scared, if a little blinded, by the whole thing.  What really wins me over in these pictures is the softness of the colour and the powdery nature of the light coming from our heavenly host. The shepherds' robes are muted tones of the angel's - they have a dark blue robe, the angel has pale blue wings; the shepherd nearest us has a mushroom/rose cloth around him and the angel is bathed in warm raspberry light.  It is a work that is both startling and silent. Do angels make noise when they appear? That is possibly my deep spiritual question for the day - how much racket does a load of angels make?  And if you hear them coming does that lessen the 'sore afraid'-ness?

See you tomorrow...


  1. Dear Kirsty
    I just had to say how much I am loving Angel-vent this year. I'm really looking forward to meeting the remaining advent angels(and hope the birthday party goes well).
    Best wishes

  2. Don't you think the artist in the picture of "Heatherley's holiday" looks a little like Ned?

  3. Thanks for your comments, and yes, he does look a bit like Ned!

  4. This is such an interesting series (I don't know how you find the time to write/post every day during this most busy of months!) Thanks for the link to the history of Heatherleys Art School. An insight into a lost world


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