Advent Calendar Day 4

Raphael Angel


Study for an angel by Raphael

Bathed in divine light, the angel in this red chalk drawing by Renaissance artist Raphael commands worship of God with his pointing left arm, guiding our attention upwards. He expresses tenderness towards humanity below with his more open right hand. 

This was Raphael’s preparatory drawing for a detail in the mosaic decoration at the Chigi Chapel in the church of S. Maria del Popolo, Rome, where God the Father in the centre of the ceiling is encircled by the sun, the stars and the six known planets, each with a commanding angel. This angel appears above Jupiter. This mosaic appears in the dome of the chapel known as the Heavens. 

The angel is strongly associated with the birth of Christ, due to the important role that they played as messengers in the traditional Christmas story. The word ‘angel’ comes from the Greek ‘angelos’ or messenger’. 

Study for an angel, c. 1515–16
Raphael (1483–1520)
Red chalk on laid paper
19.7 x 16.7 cm

Not currently on display
Available to view by appointment in the Western Art Print Room