Angels have been a source of inspiration for artists and designers for centuries. These heavenly creatures feature in beautiful artwork, from paintings and sculptures to tapestries and stained glass windows. Our latest release, Angels & Cherubs: An Image Archive for Artists and Designers, includes 159 beautifully detailed images of angels and cherubs in various poses and scenarios. This blog post will tell the story behind some of the illustrations.
Who Was the Archangel Michael?
In some religions, an Archangel is a high-ranking angel in the hierarchy of Heaven. One of the most well-known Archangels is Michael, traditionally considered the leader of heavenly armies and often depicted wearing armour and wielding a weapon. The Christian Bible describes Archangel Michael defeating Satan in a battle known as the 'War in Heaven'.
"Then war broke out in Heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in Heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." - Revelation 12:7–10 (NIV)
Archangel Michael defeating Satan was a popular subject in art, and artists could represent Satan as a serpent or a dragon in human form. Artists might also inscribe Michael's shield with the Latin inscription Quis ut Deus, meaning 'Who Is Like God?', which is a literal translation of Michael and also the name's meaning.
What Are Putti?
A cherub is an angel, usually depicted as a child. In an artistic context, they are sometimes referred to as a putto. Putto (plural, putti) derives from the Italian word 'putus' meaning 'boys' or 'child'. Putti are represented in art as winged, nude, toddler-aged boys with cheerful, chubby faces. Their character is playful, joyous and mischievous. They are a popular feature within religious artworks, acting as attendants for focal characters such as Christ or the Virgin Mary. Putti frequently appeared in mythological and religious paintings and sculptures, especially in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Baroque artists used them to signify the omnipresence of God. These cheerful winged infants also play the role of angelic spirits in religious works or act as instruments of secular love, such as Cupid.
What is a Cartouche?
A cartouche is a decorative oval or oblong frame that contains a name, title, or other inscription. Cartouches in ancient Egyptian art denoted the names of gods, royalty and influential figures. The cartouche was also used in various works of art throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance to show power and status.
Renaissance Cartouches were known for their intricate detail and exquisite craftsmanship. The designs featured elaborate flourishes, including scrollwork, floral motifs, and symbols of protection, such as wings or sunbursts. Some Renaissance cartouches also featured images of animals such as lions or eagles to signify strength, courage, and power. Artists often applied gold leaf to enhance the beauty of these frames.
Cartouches served many purposes beyond just decoration—they were a visual representation of prestige and power that identified worthy individuals who deserved special recognition for their contributions to society. Today these frames are still a popular feature in works of art as they serve both an aesthetic and symbolic purpose. In Angels & Cherubs: An Image Archive for Artists and Designers, we included examples of beautiful cartouches to spark your creativity and imagination.
Interested in Learning More?
Angels and Cherubs: An Image Archive for Artists & Designers is a unique artist reference book featuring 159 beautifully restored etchings and engravings. It showcases angels in various scenarios, from dramatic battles between good and evil, such as Archangel Michael slaying the devil, to angels guiding and protecting mortals and magnificent celestial scenes. This book also contains images of adorable cherubs at play, making music or causing mischief. We have also carefully restored a selection of angel-themed frames and cartouches, perfect for adding images or text to create your own unique designs.
We promise you will be impressed with this pictorial archive.