Everyday Angels

"You can see the concentration on their faces."—Griffith Mann, curator

Workshop of Giovanni Pisano (Italian, 1240–before 1320). Pilaster of Angels Sounding Trumpets from the Parapet of a Pulpit, 1302–10. Marble, traces of paint. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1910 (10.203.1). Learn more about this object.

Workshop of Giovanni Pisano (Italian, 1240–before 1320). Pilaster of Angels Sounding Trumpets from the Parapet of a Pulpit, 1302–10. Marble, traces of polychromy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1910 (10.203.2). Learn more about this object.

How does the sculpted body communicate? Hear from Met experts, leading authorities, and rising stars, each with a unique viewpoint on the language of gesture, facial expression, and pose.

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Griffith Mann: These figures were actually part of a much larger scene that depicted the Last Judgment. So we want to imagine ourselves looking at a figure of Christ flanked by angels that are announcing his return in this triumphant brass chorus. The angels really are belting this out.

Peter Barnet: You'll almost hear this dramatic moment when the angels are announcing the coming of the end.

Griffith Mann: I mean, you can see their puffed-up cheeks and their furrowed brows and the sense of concentration on their faces.

Peter Barnet: You might want to bend down to get a sense of the perspective that the original viewer would have seen these sculptures in when looking up at the pulpit that would have been as high as fifteen feet above them. And when you bend down, you'll see that you're looking up into the end of the trumpet.

Sam Pinkleton: You actually feel almost the aerodynamic quality of their wings, and you feel like they did sort of crash in here and land on top of each other. It's not what I would expect from the trumpeters of Christ. They just sort of look like guys off the street with, you know, weird bodies and bellies and puffy cheeks. And they don't really look like each other and when we think "Medieval angels"—we think majesty, and we think perfection, and we think they all might look the same. And, you know, it just looks like guys with horns. For such a majestic task that they have, I love that you can feel the difficulty of it, and you can feel the error in it, and the humanity of it.

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