Happy Christmas 2020

Three angels for this year’s Christmas card . All three are very different from the sort expected at this time of year but it seems to me, uniquely relevant to this most singular of Christmases. You might recognise them as the three angels standing on the left in Piero della Francesca’s Baptism of Christ in the National Gallery where they are part of the scene but also strangely outside it, as if even they have difficulty working out the meaning of what is happening before them.

3 angels – loosely based on those by Piero della Francesca in his Baptism of Christ in The National Gallery, London

Piero’s angels are always like no other painter’s angels. Look at his Madonnas and there standing close beside the virgin and child are yet more of these enigmatic figures (see below and here for my 2016 Christmas card.)  Ornately clothed, hair beautiful, and with fine jewels in their hair or on their clothes, each is utterly inscrutable in expression –  more witnesses than messengers?  The angel on the left in the Baptism is another of these impassive beings whose thoughts have been kept in check but whose demeanour registers the solemnity of the occasion. The other two angels though seem quite different. A moment frozen in painting, one mystified, the other slightly agitated, more human than divine – and just the sort of angel I’d like to think might be watching over us during this Christmas.

Angel (based on an angel in Piero della Francesca’s Montefeltro altarpiece of the Madonna and Child with Saints)

Like the year, my annual Christmas card has not turned out quite as desired. What looks ok in the flesh, has not photographed well! The textured Japanese fabric used as the base has made its presence felt under the rather too fine and too satiny silk used for the faces, rendering what should be smooth angelic faces rather bumpy and unhealthy looking! My husband has fiddled around to get the best picture possible for the card itself (and at this very moment sighs are coming from his study next door as he tries to remember how he managed to print the text detailing the picture’s origin as done in the first batch of cards). Ah well, such is life!

For a blog on angels, including more on Piero della Francesca’s see here.


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  1. Posted December 19, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    You may be less than entirely satisfied, but I do feel you’ve brought them to life beautifully. I particularly love their hair!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 19, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Rachel.

  2. Amara Bray
    Posted December 21, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I agree with the comment above. This is impressive work. Thank you for the link to the original painting too. Goodness that middle angel does look agitated!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 21, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Thank you Amara.

  3. ceci
    Posted December 21, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    I always look forward to your post about your Christmas cards – these are really wonderful. The middle angel is so upset, and the one with a hand on its shoulder is perhaps comforting? That’s the one I feel most in need of at the moment.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 22, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      That’s a very kind thing to say Ceci as it really isn’t a good photograph.
      Trying to comfort or even seeking comfort back, yes one can sympathise with that.

  4. Nella Logan
    Posted December 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful angels, Mary. Thank you for all your interesting, informative, funny, beautiful posts this year. Wishing you and your husband a peaceful and safe Christmas

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 27, 2020 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      How lovely to hear, Nella. Thank you.
      I hope your Christmas has been good and that the coming year will have much to offer.

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