League of Angels

written by Julia Schellenberg on December 28, 2015 in Content and Europeana Art with no comments

Do you believe in angels? If you don’t believe in them, you’ll certainly have heard of them. But what do they do for us humans?


Abraham with the three Angels by Francesco Zugno, 1750-1780. Rijksmuseum, Public Domain 

Angel means ‘messenger’, and this is what they do: bring messages to people telling them something they are not aware of. It is commonly believed that angels help and protect us in moments of extreme emergency, both internally and externally. Some even believe that an angel encourages and supports us, helping us develop.

Stanislav Veselovsky

Boreas carries Orithyia, 1870/1890. Slovak national gallery, CC BY

Depictions of angels in art have a long tradition. They are a popular and often displayed motif, frequently shown as winged beings with a halo and associated  with music, perhaps holding a musical instrument in their hands, and playing beautiful unearthly music. This idea of angels has largely been influenced by the Christian art. Everyday culture, however, shows that our great fascination with angels is now independent of the religious context.


Angels, 1945-1985. National Library of France, Public Domain


Angel playing Violin, 1945-1985. National Library of France, Public Domain and Angel playing Organ, 1945-1985. National Library of France, Public Domain