Angels from the realms of glory
Angels are not just for Christmas. Caroline Campbell looks heavenward to explain the divine and enduring appeal of God’s winged messengers in art
AMONG the most appealing—and omnipresent—figures in the paintings of the National Gallery are angels. You can’t move without seeing them. Angels are extraordinary creatures: we are told that they are divine spirits, yet they seem to sit somewhere between the human and the heavenly. They lead us to our better nature and encourage us to rise above the corporeal to the realms of pure spirit.
Today, many people associate angels exclusively with Christmas. Who of us hasn’t received a Christmas card bearing an angel or carefully placed an angel at the top of our Christmas tree? But angels are not just for Christmas. We find them throughout Western art of all periods and acting in a wide