(b. ca. 1250, Roma, d. 1330, Roma)

Last Judgment (detail)

c. 1300
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome

The wings of the angel are the symbol for the celerity and ease with which this beings move about in heaven and on earth. The wings never ceased to pose a challenge to artists of all periods and cultures. They tested their ingenuity and fired their imagination in their quest to invent new and original ways of representing them. Particularly striking examples of the original ways in which angels' wings were interpreted by Christian artists are those found around the year 1300 in the works of Cavallini or Giotto and his workshop; only in contour can they be distinguished as birds' wings. The wings are depicted with an enormously impressive, intense, and above all dazzling polychromy; they are built up gradually from tiny strips of colour of the same hue, which are arranged like overlapping scales and graduated in tone from dark to light, until finally culminate in the plenitude of light of a dazzling white or yellow. Since the wings in these cases have lost of any kind of anatomical structure, they are not supported by any organic part of the angels' bodies. Only by divine light are the angels sustained.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.