12th century icon of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel wearing the loros of the Imperial guards.
The earliest known Christian image of an angel, in the Cubicolo dell'Annunziazione in the Catacomb of Priscilla. which is dated to the middle of the third century, is without wings. Representations of angels on sarcophagi and on objects such as lamps and reliquaries of that period also show them without wings, [ 1 ] as for example the angel in the Sacrifice of Isaac scene in the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus .
The earliest known representation of angels with wings is on what is called the Prince's Sarcophagus, discovered at Sarigüzel, near Istanbul. in the 1930s, and attributed to the time of Theodosius I (379-395). [ 2 ]
In this same period, Saint John Chrysostom explained the significance of angels' wings: "They manifest a nature's sublimity. That is why Gabriel is represented with wings. Not that angels have wings, but that you may know that they leave the heights and the most elevated dwelling to approach human nature. Accordingly, the wings attributed to these powers have no other meaning than to indicate the sublimity of their nature." [ 3 ]
From then on, though of course with some exceptions, Christian art represented angels with wings, as in the cycle of mosaics in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major (432-440). [ 4 ] Multi-winged angels, often with only their face and wings showing, drawn from the higher grades of angels, especially cherubim and seraphim. are derived from Persian art, and are usually shown only in heavenly contexts, as opposed to performing tasks on earth. They often appear in the pendentives of domes or semi-domes of churches.
Angels, especially the Archangel Michael, who were depicted as military-style agents of God came to shown wearing Late Antique military uniform. This could be either the normal military dress, with a tunic to about the knees, armour breastplate and pteruges. but also often the specific dress of the bodyguard of the Byzantine Emperor. with a long tunic and the loros. a long gold and jewelled pallium restricted to the Imperial family and their closest guards. The basic military dress it is still worn in pictures into the Baroque period and beyond in the West (see Reni picture above), and up to the present day in Eastern Orthodox icons. Other angels came to be conventionally depicted in long robes, and in the later Middle Ages they often wear the vestments of a deacon. a cope over a dalmatic. especially Gabriel in Annunciation scenes - for example the Annunciation in Washington by Jan van Eyck .
A few noteworthy examples are:Contemporary works of art with angels Anime and manga
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