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 which has been animated with whirling, circular marks.
The symbol of the angel is strongly associated with Christmas, due to the important role that they played as informants in the traditional Christmas story.
This piece was a preparatory drawing for the mosaics of the Chigi Chapel in Rome, and was intended to be the angel above the head of Jupiter.
Study for an angel, c.1515–16 Raphael (1483–1520)
Red chalk on off-white paper
19.7 x 16.7 cm