Saturday, 3 December 2016

Saturday 3rd December - The Angel of the Annunciation

First weekend of Angelvent and I've taken a few minutes out of sewing Hogwarts robes (don't ask) to bring you this rather lovely picture...

The Angel of the Annunciation Mary Gwenllian Gibson
 Isn't that marvellous?  The wings are splendidly patriotic, in red, white and blue.  Now, this is the Angel Gabriel I assume from the title, so should have the white wings of an Archangel, but also has the blue of a Cherub and the red of a Seraph.  I wonder if that is an artistic way of alluding to the blue of the Virgin Mary and the red of the crucifixion? Anyway, I really like the faint, stylised lilies on thehis sleeves and the turquoise cape that flows from the golden collar.  That brought me on to thinking about haloes.  Aren't they odd things when you think about it? It's a neat visual shorthand to show you the holy people in the picture but the origins of the convention seem a little less Christian. Homer describes the glowing light around the heads of heroes at the end of battles, and depictions of Perseus killing Medusa sometimes had a glow around his head. There are lots of different haloes in Christian iconography, with cruciform haloes for Jesus (one with a cross inside it), triangular haloes and nice flame-y haloes, like the one above. There is never a need to go under-haloed, apparently...

Detail of Angels (1460-80) Benozzo Gozzoli
 Although our Angel Gabriel at the top was painted around the beginning of the twentieth century, it is obviously drawing its inspiration from the flattened forms of the Renaissance. It reminded me of that wonderful Virgin Mary by May Cooksey...

Maria Virgo (1914) May Cooksey
Very nice too. So, who was the artist, Mary Gwenllian Gibson?  Daughter of a pharmacist, Mary Gibson was born in 1888 in Wolverhampton.  She studied and then taught at the Wolverhampton School of Art, teaching leatherwork, needlework and bookbinding.  In 1926 she exhibited three leather panels intended to be an altar front, at the Royal Society of Artists Birmingham.  She was also a painter, exhibiting at the Royal Academy in the 1940s and 50s, and eventually dying in 1966.

Mary Gibson (c.1930s) Robert Jackson Emerson
Mary was a friend and colleague of the sculptor and painter Robert Jackson Emerson.  The couple were very close and Mary was at Emerson's bedside (presumably as well as his wife) when he died in December 1944.  Despite living in Devon in her retirement, when she died in 1966, her body was taken back to Wolverhampton and lies not far from Emerson's, in St Phillip's Churchyard.

There are some lovely photographs of the frame of Gibson's angel at Richard Christie's blog here.  

I'll see you all tomorrow...

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