Saturday, September 12, 2015

Queen Elizabeth I - 1603 With Father Time, Death, & Cherubs or Putti ?

In 1610, a very tired, old Queen Elizabeth was portrayed in an posthumous allegorical painting with 2 putti lifting the heavy weight of the crown of England from her exhausted body as sleepy, ancient Father Time waited on her right & gruesome, eager Death hovered on her left.

An Allegorical Painting of 1610 Queen Elizabeth I (1538-1603) in Old Age, c.1610 at Corsham Court, Wiltshire

Elizabeth I refused to follow royal custom of designing her own tomb. And so, she now she rests in Westminster Abbey beneath a an unfortunate effigy ordered by James VI & I, which compares badly to the tomb of James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, whom Elizabeth had executed.

And about those winged toddlers over her head in the painting clutching her crown, are they religious cherubs or secular putti?  A putto (pl. putti) is a figure of a human toddler, usually male, often naked with wings, depicted especially in Italian Renaissance & Baroque art. The Latin word "putus" means boy or child. During the early modern period, artist Donatello revived & popularized putti figures in Florence during the 1420s.

Neroccio De' Landi (1447-1500) Two Putti, 1490-1510

In the European culture of the 1400s & 1500s, Cherubs & Putti had distinctly different roles. Biblically, Cherubs & Seraphs (Cherubim & Seraphim) were sacred angels in heaven closest to God. Putti, arose from Greco-Roman classical myths, not the Christian tradition, and were associated with Eros or Cupid as well as with the Muse Erato of lyric & love poetry.

Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483–1520), Sistine Cherubs