Antiques & Auction News 122112
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Published Weekly By Joel Sater Publicationswww.antiquesandauctionnews.net
VOL. 43, NO. 52FRIDAY DECEMBER 21, 2012
By Donald-Brian Johnson
ngels we haveheard on high,
Sweetly singingoer the plains. . .
Its Christmastime onceagain, and the heavenly hostis out in full force. Ceramicangel carolers line the mantel-piece. Their cohorts hoverprotectively over cherishedNativity sets. And, at the very
top of the tree, a gauzily-gownedangelic guardian twinkles merrilyaway. For angels, the holiday sea-son is the equivalent of TV pro-gramming during sweeps week.
But just for a moment, stopand think about it. Those downywhite wings and burnished halosare actually with us all yearround. There are guardian angels.Birthday angels. Angels in the out-field. Angels in your pocket.Angels on your shoulder. Thereare angels of every shape, size,and wing span. And, forcollectors of angel fig-urines, thats heaven-sent news.
Some collect angelsfor inspirational rea-sons, or as special keep-sakes. Others enjoy theseemingly infinite num-ber of ways a singletheme can be interpret-ed. But whether yourtaste runs to dime-storeimports, figurals by aspecific designer, orhigh-end depictions,one things for sure:year in and year out,these heavenly messen-gers provide 365 daysof angelic delight.
Angels. Theyre notjust for Christmas any-more.
Whence ComesThis Rush Of Wings?
Now, those who canactually lay claim tohaving seen an angellive and in person arefew and far between,(and the word Saintusually precedes theirnames). But over thecenturies, theologiansand layfolk alike havecontinued to tussle withthe concept of unseenheavenly beings. Whoare they? What arethey? How many arethere? What do they do?What do they look like?The deductions, right orwrong, (and who onearth really knows forsure?), have resulted ina litany of popularangelic lore:
Who Are They? The
Greek word angelos (messen-ger) is the basis for our modern
term angels. Since aprimary Scripturalfunction for angelsis to serve as
heavenly mes-sengers, the title is
an apt one.
monlyaccepted by believersas immortal spirits.
Depending on your reli-gious point of view,
they were eitherbrought into being by
God on one of theDays of Creation, or
created eons before.How Many Are
There? One monk ofthe Middle Ages answered thisquery with a witty enough.Others have given the matter more
thought, (although with equallyunverifiable results). Albert theGreat, for instance, did somearcane calculations, and came upwith an angelic total of four bil-
lion. Since Biblical schol-ars often toss around theterm myriads when itcomes to counting
angels, Albert was prob-ably in the ballpark. (But
then, so was that monk.)As for the answer to
that strangest of age-oldquestions, How manyangels can dance on the
head of a pin?, SaintThomas Aquinas postulated thatonly one angel can occupy oneplace at one time. This wouldseem to indicate just one danc-ing angel per pinhead.However, since no one knowsthe size of an angel...or howmany places exist on a pin
head...the solution to theriddle remains just as elu-sive (and headache-induc-ing) as ever.
What Do They Do? Inaddition to their roles asmessengers (The angelof the Lord appeared. . .;
The angel of the Lord said. . .),angels pretty much take on what-ever duties are assigned them by
their heavenly Boss. Thosetasks can rangefrom leading theI s r a e l i t e sthrough thedesert, tos a v i n gD a n i e lfrom thelions den,to rescuingS h a d r a c h ,Meshach, andA b e d n e g ofrom the fieryfurnace.
According towidespread religious belief,angels are also kept busywatching over the rest ofus, with each individualassigned a guardian angel.(Some folks are on a first-name basis with theirs.Saint Gemma Galgani,for instance, said herguardian angel paid daily vis-its, and stayed for lengthychats.)
For most religions, however,the primary function of angels is togive praise to their Creator. (Inother words, that multitude of theheavenly host doesnt just reportfor duty on Christmas Eve.)
What Do They Look Like?
Unless youre St. Gemma, orone of her vision-
ary cohorts, thelook of anangel is fluid,limited onlyby theboundariesof imagina-tion. Angelspresumably
made theirspeedy jour-
neys from theskies, so early
them with wings. Halosgraced the heads of bothangels and saints, anartistic shorthand for
holiness. And those full-length, flowing angelic robesfavored by Renaissance
artists were really just etherealadaptations of the garments drap-ing their more down-to-earth reli-gious subjects. (There are, ofcourse, always exceptions: thedefending Archangel Michael is
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Kneeling angel markedGermany, and Hummel angelcandleholder. 4-1/2 inches high;7-1/2 inches high. $25 to $40; $75to $100.
Collectible Angel Figurines LandJust In Time For The Holiday
The Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroquecrche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, along-standing yuletide tradition in New York, ison view for the holiday season, (through January6, 2013.) The brightly lit, 20-foot blue spruce -with a collection of 18th-century Neapolitanangels and cherubs hovering among its boughsand groups of realistic crche figures flanking theN a t i v i t yscene at itsbase - willonce againdelight holi-day visitors inthe MuseumsM e d i e v a lS c u l p t u r eHall. The Metis located at1000 FifthAvenue at82nd Street,in New YorkCity.
Set infront of the18th-centurySpanish choirscreen fromthe Cathedralof Valladolid,with recordedC h r i s t m a smusic in thebackgroundand daily
lighting ceremonies, the installation reflectsthe spirit of the holiday season.
The annual Christmas display has evolvedthrough the generosity, enthusiasm, and dedi-cation of the late Loretta Hines Howard, whobegan collecting crche figures in 1925. Soonafter, Mrs. Howard conceived the idea of pre-
Magnificent Christmas Tree & Neapolitan Baroque Crche Return
To The Metropolitan For The Holidays
Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crchedisplay at The Metropolitan Museum in New York City;a 20-foot blue spruce with a collection of 18th-centuryNeapolitan angels and cherubs among its boughs andgroups of realistic crche figures flanking the Nativityscene at its base, displayed in the Museums MedievalSculpture Hall. Gift of Loretta Hines Howard, 1964.Behind the tree: Reja from the Cathedral of Valladolid,Spanish, 1763, wrought iron, partially gilt, and limestone,52 by 42 foot (15.86 by 12.81 m). Gift of The WilliamRandolph Hearst Foundation, 1956.Detail of the Neapolitan Baroque crche. Gift of Loretta Hines Howard, 1964.
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Vintage Higgins fusedglass hanging angel, fash-ioned from patterned glassremnants, brass halo. 11inches high, $400 to $450.
www.antiquesandauctionnews.net2 - - Antiques & Auction News December 21, 2012
comfy. When we go to themovies, and see edgyangels like off-the-wallJohn Travolta inMichael, or broodingNicholas Cage in City ofAngels, we ask, grumpi-ly, what have they gotto be so unhappy about?After all, theyreangels.
Mid-century angelfigurines, on the otherhand, couldnt be happi-er. Whether glass orceramic, whether wil-lowy seraphic or cheru-bically impish, winsomesmiles and gentle posesare the norm. Thedesigners of these fig-
urines knew what wouldsell...and what sold were
angels pleasurableenough to look at ona daily basis.
Nearly everydomestic giftwarefirm from the 1940swell into the 1960sincluded atleast oneangel fig-urine in itsinventory.A m o n gthose offer-ing interest-ing varia-tions:
CeramicArts Studio,M a d i s o n .CAS wasamong themost prolif-ic angel-providers .P r i n c i p a ld e s i g n e rBetty Harringtonsangels are notablenot only for the high
quality of execu-tion, (exquisitelyrendered facial featuresare a Ceramic Arts trade-mark), but also fortheir interpretivevariety. There are s t a n d a r d angels, such as the Praise &Blessing pair. There arewhimsical angels, such as theAngel Trio: one youthfulangel pores over a choirbook, another kneels inprayer, a third reaches to theheavens clasping a gold star.There are even such unusualadaptations as the Angels inthe Clouds candleholders.The console sets three seatedcherubs, resting on ceramicclouds, depict the preceptsSee No Evil, Hear NoEvil, and Speak No Evil.
A stickler for accuracy,
Harrington would runher angel proto-types, (as well as
those for other reli-gious-themed ceram-ics), past the nunswhose convent was
near theStudio. If adesign metwith their
approval,it was ago forp r o d u c -tion.
B e t t yLou Nichols,California. Doangels have eye-lashes? Betty LouNichols do. Sodo practically allof the other fig-urines turned outby this designer.Although pri-m a r i l y
known for popular-izing lady head
v a s e s ,Nichols alsocreated anextensive line
of holiday figurals,including, naturallyenough, angels. Tooenchanting for Christmas-only display, their hand-applied, three-dimension-al black lashes make BettyLou angels instantly rec-ognizable. Well, that andthe Betty Lou lips. Pink,and always hand-paintedby Betty, those lips puckerup in an especially-appro-priate-for-angels Cupids-bow.
Howard Pierce,California. Angels in the
abstract? Ceramist HowardPierce specialized in distill-ing things down to theiressence, and his angel fig-urines were no exception.Theres nothing extraneoushere. Often faceless, or withrudimentary, almost primi-tive features, Pierce angels
are identifiable primarily byshape. We see the wings, andthe folded hands; simplededuct