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Angels in Renaissance Art

Angels hold a particularly important position in Renaissance art, and the iconography of the Archangels is especially meaningful. The Archangels are the seven angels who stand before God in Revelations. The Koran of Islam only recognizes four and only names two. Christian and Jewish sources agree on the number seven, but there is a debate over who they actually are. Four names appear regularly in these discussions, however--Michael, Gabriel, Rapha-el, and Uri-el. The other three traditional candidates are chosen from Metatron, Remi-el, Sari-el, Ana-el, Ragu-el, and Razi-el (the suffix "el" means "brightness" or "shining"). The Archangels are said to be messengers who carry Divine Decrees, and they are considered the most important intercessionaries between God and humans. It is they who command the legions of Heaven in their constant battle with the Sons of Darkness (Godwin, 1994, 36).

The nature of the Archangels has been described by Dionysius the Aeropagite. He says there are three divisions of angels, with each of these divided into three classes or choirs, making nine in all. The first is the Councillors of God, consisting of the Seraphim, represented as covered with eyes; the Cherubim, represented with six wings and usually standing on wheels, based on the description of Ezekiel, though they may also have an open book; and Thrones, who are represented carrying a throne or tower. The second is the Governors, consisting of Dominations, represented with a sword, a triple crown and scepter, or an orb and cross; the Virtues, who carry a battle-axe and pennon or a crown and censer and who are in complete armor; and the Powers, who hold a baton, or who are in the act of scourging or chaining evil spirits. The third group consists of the Messengers of God. Under this heading are the Princedoms or Principalities who stand in armor, with pennons, or who are seen holding a lily.

Next within the third group are the Archan...

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Angels in Renaissance Art. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:18, May 27, 2020, from