December 11, 2012

Herald Angels


        Probably I should be working on the family holiday newsletter right now, instead of writing a blog post, but that reminds me that my earliest block prints were linoleum cut Christmas cards made in high school and college.  Yes, it's that Christmas card time of year, so here's one of those early block prints by me, and a few other angels to keep it company.

        I've chosen angels of totally different styles (but all the result of printmaking, of course.)  First, the standard: Albrecht Dürer's elaborate Renaissance angels.  With their swirling robes and stern features, this is probably how most people picture angels to this day.  The only major change is that in Dürer's time angels were definitely male, whereas since the Victorian era they're much more likely to look feminine.
        On the opposite end of the angel spectrum from winged men with holy swords are, of course, the cherubs.  (Technically, putti.)  They must buzz around like bumblebees with those tiny wings, and apparently they spend all their time bobbing about on clouds looking, well… cherubic.
        An interesting style of angel is this multiwinged character, which represents one of the (technical) cherubim.  It's pretty much all wing.  I like the words on the feathers, too.  It would really be fascinating to see a host of these angels in flight.  Its hard to imagine how the wings would all flap without getting tangled, but assuming it worked it would certainly be spectacular - a whirling, pulsating, feathery glory, with words coming down all around!
        And finally, representing the most basic kind of relief printing of all, this cute craft you can make from the hand and footprints of your adorable small tot.  My own tots are no longer tiny enough for this to be adorable - and to tell the truth, I've never been a fan of angels in my decor anyway - but I thought it was a rather
clever idea for a Christmas card… which is back to where we started.  And that reminds me, I suppose I ought to get back to work on that newsletter!

[Pictures: Hark the Herald Angels Sing, linoleum block print by AEGN, 1991;
detail from The Seven Trumpets are Given to the Angels, woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, 1497-8 (image from WikiPaintings);
Concert of cherubs in the clouds, engraving by Wenceslas Hollar, c1625-75 (image from Wikimedia Commons);
Angel from Patrologia Latina vol. 201, collected by Jacques-Paul Migne, either around 1850-5, or from a new version from the 1880's (image from Wikimedia Commons, photo by P. Vasiliadis);
handprint angel, from Motherhood on a Dime.]

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