• Hearts of Oak auction at Christies

    Sale 5982

    Hearts of Oak

    2 December 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 391

    A PAIR OF GOTHIC REVIVAL SANDSTONE TOMB EFFIGY ANGEL ATTENDANTS

    CIRCA 1860

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF GOTHIC REVIVAL SANDSTONE TOMB EFFIGY ANGEL ATTENDANTS
    CIRCA 1860
    With clasped hands and feathered wings
    15 in. (38 cm.) high; 26 in. (66 cm.) long (2)


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    This pair of sandstone attendant angels, carved in the manner of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, are inspired by the 13th century tradition of tomb effigy angel attendants. The angels are seated leaning slightly backwards and looking upwards with bent knees and one leg crossing the other in support of the person commemorated.
    The custom of burying people inside a church goes back to early Christian times when one wanted to be buried as near as possible to the tomb of a martyr or the altar that was connected with that martyr. By the 13th century burial inside a church seems to have become a general custom, yet overcrowding quickly made it a 'privilege of the few than a right of the many'.
    The idea of a cushion with attendant angels is said to be French and was consciously borrowed in England during the 13th century as seen on the tombs of Edmund Crouchback and his wife Aveline in Westminster Abbey. The purpose of the angel attendants was to hold the cushion/and or head of the effigy to give the impression of putting the person commemorated to an easy rest. This style of angel attendant became known as the 'Westminster angel'. A fine example of the 'Westminster angel' can be seen on the tomb and effigy of Edward II (d. 1327) at Gloucester. (see A. Gardner, English Medieval Sculpture, Cambridge, 1951, pp. 323-343.)

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