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Pictures of Christmas Angels, Some Beautiful Paintings and Images of Angels In Art

Updated on May 10, 2014
Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda is a keen Artist and Art Historian with a particular interest in 19th century art, particularly the work of the Pre-Raphaelites

The Angel Gabriel by Guido Reni

The Angel Gabriel by Guido Reni. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Angel Gabriel by Guido Reni. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

A Choir of Angels Sing

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, / Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I believe in angels. Don't ask me why. I'm not overly religious, and yet the idea of these gracious beings walking with us, unseen, smiling on our endeavours, lighting our path, and guiding us home in times of need, resonates on the deepest level. Of course I've never knowingly seen an angel, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been in the presence of one.

Throughout the ages mankind has reported encounters with these heavenly beings. We have a traditional image in our minds eye of tall, physically beautiful, winged angels, robed in white gowns. These are the angels of Christ's nativity, who greet the birth of the infant Jesus. Each year, in December, small children decked out in bed sheets with tinsel halos act out the part of angels as they re-tell the Christmas story in schools, in churches, and draughty public halls.

Angels have also been a favoured subject for artists and writers across the centuries, and this hub looks at some beautiful images of angels, from Christmas angels, to the Angel of the Annunciation, to Guardian angels and beyond, as well as including some great quotations from poets, philosophers and other writers.These angels aren't always robed in white, and sometimes they're not so physically imposing, but I like to think that they're always inspiring.

Enjoy!

Glaedelig Jul - Old-fashioned Norwegian Christmas Postcard

Property of the National Library of Norway. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Property of the National Library of Norway. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

The Guardian Angel by Henri Decaisne, 1836

The Guardian Angel by Henri Decaisne, 1836. image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Guardian Angel by Henri Decaisne, 1836. image courtesy of Wiki Commons

An Angel to watch over us

'I wear a coat of angels' breath and warm myself with His love'. ~Emme Woodhull-Bäche

In this painting the infant sleeps securely in the arms of an angel, whilst his exhausted mother naps beside him, oblivious to the presence of a heavenly guardian. The artist Henri Decaisne (1799-1852) painted this popular image in 1832. I like the way that the angel casts his eyes towards heaven, whilst his left wing gently folds around the child's mother to include her in his embrace.


Angel by Abbott Thayer, 1889

Angel by Abbott Thayer, 1889, courtesy of WikiCommons.
Angel by Abbott Thayer, 1889, courtesy of WikiCommons.

On the wings of an angel

'The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.' ~George Elliot

Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) used his daughter Mary as the model for this striking portrait of an angel. Thayer was famed for his skills as a portrait artist, but in later life became famous for another quite surprising reason.Thayer is credited with doing much of the earliest work into the nature of camoflage, and his extensive research enabled him to write in detail about  protective coloration in nature. He is sometimes referred to as the 'father of camoflage'.

The Angel by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1881

The Angel by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1881. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Angel by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1881. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

The sound of the clarion's call

 'Music is well said to be the speech of angels'.  ~Thomas Carlyle

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) painted many images of ethereal willowy beings, including quite a number of angels. He is closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and worked closely with William Morris to produce designs for stained glass church windows. Many well-known examples still exist.

An Angel Playing a Flageolet by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

This picture is on display at Sudley House, Liverpool. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.
This picture is on display at Sudley House, Liverpool. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Star of Bethlehem (Flower Book) by Sir Edward Coley Burne Jones

This watercolour was published posthumously in a limited edition book in 1905 by the artist's widow. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
This watercolour was published posthumously in a limited edition book in 1905 by the artist's widow. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Bird of God by Joanna Mary Boyce (1861)

Image Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Image Courtesy of Wiki Commons

The Last Angel

Joanna Mary Boyce (1831-1861) came from an artistic family, and she was fortunate enough to be able to study at Cary's Art Academy from the age of 18. Joanna Boyce was a Londoner by birth, but her artistic gifts, and priveleged background soon saw her travelling in Europe where she was able to further her studies in both Paris and later in Italy. It was in Rome, in 1857, that she married the artist Henry Tanworth Wells, and with his encouragement, she continued to produce portraits and genre paintings in a careful, naturalistic, style. The painting shown above, entitled 'Bird of God' was standing, recently completed, on her easel when she died of complications following childbirth. She was 29 years old.


St Cecelia and the Angels by Paul Delaroche (1836)

Property of the V&A Museum in London, UK. Courtesy of Wiki Commons.
Property of the V&A Museum in London, UK. Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Resurrection of Christ by Raphael, circa 1499-1502

Resurrection of Christ by Raphael, circa 1499-1502. Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Resurrection of Christ by Raphael, circa 1499-1502. Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Tidings of Great Joy I Bring

'Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.'
~Richard Purdy Wilbur

Raphael is one of the best known of the Renaissance masters, and his work features many light-hearted and joyful images of angels, including this one of an angel on the wing.

Detail from the LA Cathedral Mausoleum Stained Glass Window

Detail from the stained glass window in LA's Catholic Cathedral. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Detail from the stained glass window in LA's Catholic Cathedral. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

In the city of angels

 'You'll meet more angels on a winding path than on a straight one.'  ~Daisey Verlaef

Originally created for the Cathedral of St Vibiana in the 1920s by Franz Borgias Mayer (1848-1926) this fantastic stained glass window now resides in the mauseleum of the Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles.

photo credit: Andreas Prafcke

The Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne, 1644

The Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne, 1644. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne, 1644. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Hark the herald angels sing!

'So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame, Angels affect us oft, and worshipped be' - John Donne (1571-1631)

Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674) was a Flemish born artist of the French Baroque school. His paintings are mainly figurative, and are often of religious tableaux such as the one above. Mary looks suitably startled at the angelic vision before her, but she's clearly not frightened by her visitor, or by the accompanying chorus of cherubs above her head!

The Annunciation by Titian, 1520-1522

The Annunciation by Titian, 1520-1522. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
The Annunciation by Titian, 1520-1522. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Titian's angel with a message

' I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.' ~Michelangelo

One of the shining stars of the Italian Renaissance, Titian was a Venetian artist of great versatility and skill. This angel carries a banner inscribed with Latin, and has a powerful and purposeful air about him.

Seventh Angel of the Apocalypse Proclaiming the Reign of The Lord, c.1180

Seventh Angel of the Apocalypse Proclaiming the Reign of the Lord, c. 1180. Image courtesy of Wiki commons
Seventh Angel of the Apocalypse Proclaiming the Reign of the Lord, c. 1180. Image courtesy of Wiki commons

More angelic music

'But men must know, that in this theatre of man's life, it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on.' - Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

I have included this very ancient image of an angel because I like the stylised image, and the simple but effective choice of colours. The Seven Angels of the Apocalypse are mentioned in the Book of Revelations. They are all given trumpets, then an angel with a golden censer goes to the altar and offers the prayers of the saints. That angel then takes fire from the altar, fills his censer with it, and hurls it down to the Earth initiatiing a series of earthquakes, accompanied by thunder, and lightning.

The Annunciation to the angels from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The Annunciation to the Shepherds from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
The Annunciation to the Shepherds from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Les Tres Riches Heures

 'And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams, call to the soul when man doth sleep' - Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)

Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is an illuminated manuscript which was commissioned around 1410, and was largely the work of the Limbourg Brothers. The manuscript is heavily illustrated throughout, and it's remarkable draughtsmanship and jewel bright colours, make it one of the most important works of art of the 15th century. This illustration  shows the angels announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds grazing their sheep on the hills above Bethlehem.

Do you believe in angels?

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Angels - Robbie Williams

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  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sasanka7.

  • sasanka7 profile image

    sasanka7 6 years ago from Calcutta, India

    Wonderful hub. I like the article and the paintings of Angels. Thanks for sharing nice topic.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by Htodd

  • htodd profile image

    htodd 6 years ago from United States

    Awesome read..Thanks for sharing details

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Hi Gma Goldie, God's beauty certainly is all around, and angel paintings are a wonderful expression of it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    Awesome! God's beauty is all around us - and you share some of the best. Thank you!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

    Hi Errorsomi and CMHypno, thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  • CMHypno profile image

    CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

    These are beautiful angels, Amanda. Thanks for compiling all these beautiful angel pictures

  • errorsomi profile image

    errorsomi 7 years ago

    Nice hub!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Bill, what a lovely surprise to see you here! Thank you for your compliments. I'd love to see some of your writing on HubPages. Maybe some poetry?

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    Bill Ware 7 years ago

    Hi Amanda,I love this hub,you are even more talented than I thought you were you should get this one published as a book.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Dolores, good to see you back on HubPages. Please feel free to link this to your hubs, and let me know if I can reciprocate!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Hi, Amanda, I am back. I've written several angel hubs and would love to link to this one. Beautiful pictures. Angels are amazing!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • mike1242 profile image

    mike1242 7 years ago from London

    Really nice art work

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Deborah-Lynn, I have to agree that earlier traditions in art were more appropriate for some subjects, and angels are possibly one of those. The angels here were all painted more than 70 years ago, and they are all wonderful, but I expect that there are contemporary artists doing similar work. I just haven't found them yet.

  • Deborah-Lynn profile image

    Deborah-Lynn 7 years ago from Los Angeles, California

    Angels were portrayed with more majesty and had a quality of mystique in past centuries, I prefer them to more contemporary artists' renderings...

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi ArtKali, it's always good to meet another art lover. Thanks for stopping by.

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    ArtKali 7 years ago

    Lovely page ! I am a painter and art history buff. The paintings you selected here are very beautiful ! I will add myself to your hub. I am new to this forum and so would appreciate your following. I plan to post my artwork in the near future. Thank-you & warm wishes from Miami, Florida.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Kelly, I'm sure angels do exist in one form or another, and anything that shines a light into our lives, and helps us to walk on the sunny side can't be a bad thing! Thanks for stopping by.

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    KellyEngaldo 7 years ago

    Amanda,

    Loved this article and the images were outstanding! Very nice. I believe in angels - I know my JW friends feel otherwise and I respect that and I know God is a jealous God but angels keep everything in perspective and allow me to reflect on God. Anything that leads to God is good. Excellent article - rated it up!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Dolores, the Thayer painting is very striking, and I would love to see it face to face. Maybe one day! Thayer was a very interesting character by all accounts, as well as a brilliant artist.

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Hi, Amanda. I love the pix of the angels. I saw the Thayer angel in person about a month ago at the National Portrait Gallery in DC. I enjoyed so much seeing it as it is such a famous angel picture.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Thanks for stopping by Sohelia.

  • Simply Soheila profile image

    Simply Soheila 7 years ago

    I really liked your hub and all the beautiful paintings.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Shalini, yes, Christmas is definitely in the air now. We've had a few frosty mornings this week, and there are lights up in Brighton and along the sea front. It's all looking very festive. Glad you enjoyed the hub, as I loved putting this one together.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Writer Rider. They're all great, aren't they? It's hard to pick a favourite.

  • Shalini Kagal profile image

    Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

    Can't think how I missed this hub! Beautiful pictures and I love the quotes with each of them. The music is wonderful, too, thank you - makes you feel Christmas in the air!

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    Writer Rider 7 years ago

    I love them all. Very beautiful paintings.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Naomi, thank you for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. A merry Christmas to you!

  • Naomi R. Cox profile image

    Naomi R. Cox 7 years ago from Elberton, Georgia

    A wonderful hub, the paintings are all beautiful piece's of art. Thank you so much for sharing this hub with us.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Jess, I see what you mean about the L.A. angel. She just needs a few more curls!

  • Jess Killmenow profile image

    Jess Killmenow 7 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

    The angel in "The Guardian Angel" looks like someone I once dated, I swear. And the detail from the L.A. cathedral looks like Bernadette Peters, doesn't she?

    Why would angels have a gender, do you suppose? Fascinating, as usual, Amanda. Thank you!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi 2patricias, I wonder if you have seen the beautiful Glyn Philpot painting of the Annunciation which is in Brighton Museum? It's one of my favourite paintings. They have quite a number of Philpots there, and I like them all. I hope you two ladies have a wonderful Christmas, and thank you for visiting!

  • 2patricias profile image

    2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

    This really is a beautiful hub, and very inspiring for Christmas. Tricia and I sometimes talk about what we would do if we won the lottery (I don't even buy a ticket) and it strikes me I would buy a painting of the Annunciation - but have it on public display. Both of us always think it is one of the most dramatic moments in the whole Bible - and over the centuries there have been so many beautiful paintings.

    Thanks for all the work you put into this hub.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Cris, thank you for the compliments! I enjoyed putting it together.

  • Cris A profile image

    Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

    This was one heavenly hub! Ahhh I can just look and look at the images you presented here. I miss doing art hubs like this! And great videos too, two of my favourites actually - so how cool is this hub? :D

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Peacenhim and Ugg online, thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi VioletSun, I've always imagined them as beings of light, but maybe they come to us in the form of people or even animals sometimes. Thanks for your description. It sounds beautiful.

  • profile image

    ugg online 7 years ago

    They are holy and quiet.

  • VioletSun profile image

    VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

    Hi, Amanda: No, they didn't. They were actually tiny with a beautiful light around them, one had a glowing, deep pink,almost fuchia light around her and what what attracted my attention; this is why I understand when you wrote not all angels look like the ones in paintings; angels can take any shape, form.

  • profile image

    peacenhim 7 years ago

    Great Hub for the Season! I enjoyed the paintings very much.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
    Author

    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi VioletSun, I really like the stained glass angel too. I love her green wings!. There are more photos of this window on Wiki Commons Images, and they're all lovely.

    Did your angels look like the ones in the paintings? I'd love to know.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
    Author

    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Barb. Glad you made it to the end of The Lathe of Heaven. Hope it got less tortuous as you went along! It's nice to think that angels might save us from ourselves. I hope they really do! I talk to angels as well, and I feel comforted by the idea that they are all around us.

    The Robbie Williams song is one of my all-time favourites. The other song was one I heard more recently, and quite liked, though not so much as Robbies.

  • VioletSun profile image

    VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

    I knew your hub was going to be a treat for my eyes and senses. Beautiful photos and nice descriptions. My favorite is the stained glass angel by Franz Borgias. And yes, I voted I believe in angels; actually have seen them.

  • Storytellersrus profile image

    Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

    Hey Amanda, glad I checked out this hub. I have been relying on angels daily with all the stress going on around me. I talk to them all the time, seriously. I trust in them. They are like the aliens in The Lathe of Heaven which I finished today. They save us from ourselves! Thanks so much for opening me to new experiences in art and in reading.

    PS I hadn't heard of Robbie Williams but listened to something new there as well. In the Arms of an Angel is so hauntingly beautiful... thanks again.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
    Author

    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Ethel and Teresa,

    I don't imagine angels to literally look like those in the paintings, although wouldn't it be great if they did? Maybe your idea of a protective force, Teresa, is closer to the truth. Maybe angels are always around us if we only knew how to see them. I like to think so.

  • Teresa McGurk profile image

    Sheila 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

    What beautiful paintings, and beautiful music to match. This is a delightful hub; I'm always surprised at how many folk say they believe in literal angels protecting them: I have to admit the possibility of some protective force (love? compassion?) being present in the world is very attractive. Very.

  • ethel smith profile image

    Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    Lovely images. Angels are nice thought but I am unsure of their existence

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Brian, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the paintings.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Elena, I guess a sexy looking angel of either persuasion might be unconvincing. They need to appear to be above such worldly concerns. The Guardian Angel is pretty though.

  • BrianS profile image

    Brian Stephens 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

    Lovely paintings and a very good hub.

  • Elena. profile image

    Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

    I'll say, Amanda, all angels share that androgynous look, even the Thayer who used his daughter as a model :) The guardian angel makes me look twice! Very very pretty!

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Yes, that's right Immartin, angels are beautiful people with wings! LOL! Personally. I really do believe in angels, but I'm not too sure of how they might look in reality. Titian's version is definitely my favourite of the above.

  • lmmartin profile image

    lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

    I see man his created not only God, but His angels in his own image.

    Beautiful art, lovely images. Thanks.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Pam, I'm getting myself in the mood for Christmas. The kids are already asking for the decorations to come down from the attic, but I can't even think about that until we're properly into December. I haven't seen any news of Bill for a few days. I hope that's all going ok, and that he's well on the mend now.

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    pgrundy 7 years ago

    What a beautiful hub! I believe in angels too. I love Pre-Raphaelite artwork. Thank you Amanda. :)

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Aya, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. I wonder what was in Abbot Thayer's mind when he painted 'Angel', as I read that he'd tragically lost two of his children at a young age. I know that was a common occurrence in those days, but it must still have been very sad for him.

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Bob, Robbie's "Angels" is definitely one of my all time faves. I'd been meaning to write a hub about angels in art for a while now. It's a good theme for the season, but also appeals to me for other reasons. Hope you're enjoying the run up to Christmas. My kids are quite hyper already!

  • Aya Katz profile image

    Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

    Amanda, they are all such beautiful works. I liked Angel by Abbot Thayer best. She seems so real and has a heroic face.

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

    Lovely if sad words to that song by McLaughlin. And I've always liked Robbie's "Angels." I emphasise with Robbie, been there. Nice pics, good hub for Chrissie, The season's jollies to you, Amanda... Bob x

  • Amanda Severn profile image
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    Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

    Hi Hello, Hello. That was quick! Glad you enjoyed the angels. I thought that I choose something topical in the run-up to Christmas!

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for your lovely hub. Those painting were absolutely beautiful.