Angels according to CS Lewis

Fra Angelico’s angels carry in their face and gesture the peace and authority of heaven.

The Annunciation: Fra Angelico

Later come the chubby infantile nudes of Raphael,

Detail from Sistine Madonna: Raphael

finally the soft, slim girlish and consolatory angels of nineteenth-century art, shapes so feminine that they avoid being voluptuous only by their total insipidity – the frigid houris of a tea-table paradise.

Detail from the Adoration of the Magi: Edward Byrne Jones.

They are a pernicious symbol. In Scripture the visitation of an angel is always alarming; it has to begin by saying ‘Fear not’. The Victorian angel looks as if it were going to say ‘There, there.’

CS Lewis – Preface to 1961 Screwtape Letters

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