ANGELS and ARCHANGELS
“The teaching of the church about the world of spirits is constant and simple: there is such a world, it is important, it comprises good and evil beings, and it influences our world.” (Coulson, John. The Saints A Concise Biographical Dictionary, Hawthorn Books, INC. 1958, page 31.)
Many people believe in angels even if they say they don’t believe in God. Angels for the most part are considered the good guys who help us out, watch over us, and keep our children safe when we’re not there. Many of us have seen angelic beings and a few have heard them speak. Think of Mary and the words spoken to her at the Annunciation.
The Greek word for angel means “messenger.” Angles are present in both Old and New Testament and are depicted not just as messengers but often as champions against evil. In Tobias the angel Raphael defends, guides, and gives company to Tobias.
The original ‘Angel with the Gold Hair’ is from the the Novgorod school and dates from the mid to late 12th century. The Novgorod school quite simply gets its name from the Russian city that it was located.
Icons are some of best Novgorodian art and I think this is because the Novgorodian iconographers didn’t just import the Byzantine style, but they fused it with their own traditional folk art. Making the Novgoronian icons distinct and lively.
“Angel with the Golden Hair” is a wonderful example of Novgoronian liveliness and despite the damaged panel this icon reflects it’s intended spiritual strength through the usage of a strong contrast of darks and lights, saturated bright colors, and an energetic usage of drawing. This icon’s liveliness reflects a heavenly energy.
By the late 13th the Novgorod school began a shift in style. Figures became more flat and the palette changed from the lively folk colors to the deeper colors of brown, green, and ochre. However during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, the Novgorod school produced some of Russia’s greatest Medieval works of art.
But still my favorite of all the Novgorodian icons is this one. This angel for me expresses in a real way the beauty and grandeur of the Heavenly Host.
As you can see my copy is not an exact replica, but hopefully I have in some small way captured the spirit of the original icon. The first notable change is color usage. My icon has a distinct Ultramarine Blue as the background color. Trying to copy the damaged part of the panel was beyond my artist capabilities so simplifying the background worked best for me.
I enjoyed using contrasting colors of deep blue and the yellow family. I felt like the contrast of darks and lights work well in communicating heaven’s battle of good against evil.
The lesson I was mindful of while working on this icon was the ever presence of God. He is always with us. The angels of God are His messengers and He sends them to our aid. I hope you are encouraged by this icon and my prayer is you experience His eternal peace.