Dec 19, 2013
Nov 3, 2016




Thomas Wilmer Dewing

(American, 1851–1938)

Gouache over graphite

Support: Beige wove paper

Sheet: 30.8 x 27.8 cm (12 1/8 x 10 15/16 in.); Image: 27 x 23 cm (10 5/8 x 9 1/16 in.)

The Fanny Tewksbury King Collection 1956.722



Dewing’s small, densely packed composition of four singing angels alludes to depictions of angels playing musical instruments found in 14th-century medieval manuscripts. Angels were traditionally shown playing stringed instruments, whose delicate tones were thought to lift the mind to spiritual matters. The harp, as depicted here, was the instrument most closely associated with heavenly music. With the continuous circling of halos and harps, Dewing suggested a hypnotic, celestial melody.

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