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Online Exhibitions

Wings of Fantasy: Angels in American Art

Wings of Fantasy

Abbott Handerson Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil, 36 1/4 x 28 1/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly, 1929.6.112. View our slide show Wings of Fantasy to see other examples from our collection.

The painting Angel by Abbott Handerson Thayer is one of the most popular works in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection. Explaining the appeal of Thayer's angels, an art critic mused, "They come near to us, there is a lovely hint of the human and intimate in them, yet they are not of the earth; they have a mystic air, and a glance that fathoms the beyond."

Winged figures have been a favorite subject of artists working in many different times and places. From southwestern sculpture to abstract modern sketches, angels and other winged beings take a surprising variety of artistic forms.

Sample that variety by exploring our thematic slide show Wings of Fantasy. To learn more about the art of Thayer, visit our online exhibition Abbott Handerson Thayer. Another artist, Elihu Vedder, created many winged figures for a classic book. Check out those images at our site Elihu Vedder's Drawings for the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

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