Quiet Adoration

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and Cherub Wings

This late Victorian or early Art Nouveau brooch always makes me smile.  The image has long been used on everything from postcards to T-shirts.  I knew it was “Raphael’s angel” – what I didn’t know was that this pensive cherub was just a small part of a much larger painting. 

Created in 1512 by Raphael Sanzio, this awe-inspiring work is titled “The Sistine Madonna“.  It was commissioned by Pope Julius II for the church of San Sisto, Piacenza.  For over 500 years, many have expostulated about the symbolism and meaning of these two cherubim…  here are two of my favorites.

The first proposes that two children came to watch Raphael while he painted the Madonna.  He was so enchanted by their demeanor that he added them to his masterpiece, exactly as they were.  In the early 1900’s a second story circulated…  it argued that Raphael was inspired by a pair of children that he saw on the street; the two were gazing wistfully into a bakery window.  It sounds reasonable… fresh baked goods have been known to bring a dreamy look to my face a time or two!


The brooch itself is actually a tiny miniature painting on porcelain – it is fully ensconced in a yellow gold frame with a decorative entwined rope edge.  The cherub rests his cheek in his left hand, and gazes upward while a glorious wing of crimson and emerald feathers curves out from his right shoulder.  Rows of delicate curls cascade down both sides of his head and a soft pink blush graces this delightful cherub’s cheeks.  Each of these details add interest to the piece – but for me, it all comes down to a singular point…  Raphael’s reverence; quiet adoration.  He gazes at God with the eyes of his heart.  

“You can go to our site and look, them come to Joden and touch.”

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Shelly Isacco

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