Angels have appeared in works of art since early times, and they have been a popular subject for paintings and sculpture ever since. The appearance of such figures in dreams means that stability is sought in life and that dreamer may have lost their way.
Angels were usually intended, in both early Christian and Islamic art, to be beautiful, though several depictions go for frightening attributes. In art, angels are depicted as omens for good and bad or of the final curtain, when souls are borne away to heaven…..or to elsewhere -after all, what are devils other than fallen angels?
As a matter of theology, they are spiritual beings who do not eat or excrete and are genderless. Many angels in early art may appear to the modern eye to be gendered as either male or female by their dress or actions, but until the 19th century, even the most female looking will normally lack breasts, and the figures should normally be considered as genderless.
The term Angel can, of course, be used as a term of endearment, either to a partner, child or even as a passing exclamation of gratitude to a stranger. Hollywood managed to use the term poignantly in the 1938 gangster movie “Angels with Dirty Faces”.
Doug depicts angels in this series as human beauties, desirable, with no direct reference to religion. However, such classical forms of angels appear elsewhere in his works. He often depicts these in their traditional form (see painting Angels 2 1933) but there are also some examples of transfiguration.
The clearest example of this is in the painting The Putti brothers (below, and in the 2000s and the Dancing Times art series’), where the main subjects of the work are winged Zoot Suited dancers, leaping and flying. They are not to be confused, from their appearance, to them having putty like attributes! Putti are winged infants playing the role of angelic spirits in religious works. They are often shown as associates of Cupid.