This large finely hand-carved and giltwood Spanish cherub delights us with a joyful grin from between his chubby cheeks. With his left hand, he points forward. The fact he is pointing to the right suggests he might have been an ensemble from an altar or a display. With the right hand, he modestly holds his hand to his heart to represent God is always in his people’s hearts and souls. His wings are deeply carved expanding outward, flowing in the air, along with his hair. Draped across his plump body is a swag of material that flows down between his pudgy legs to function as a support structure.
Although there are various interpretations of cherub angels, the depiction of chubby, young children as cherubs occurred as early as the Renaissance era. The mission of cherubs is to help humans deepen their love towards God, in the purest fashion. Similarly, by mere observation of their innocence, children have the capacity to provide an abundant amount of joy and pure love to their parents. So, the connection to children became an easy one and is still a popular art form. During the Renaissance, the Italian artist, Raphael created characters called “putti,” which looked like male babies or toddlers, with wings or without. These characters continued to represent the presence of pure love.
Coming from Spain, this 19th-century carving is considered a Santo figure. A Santo (English: ‘saint’) is a religious statue that depicts various angels and saints, who are important in the Catholic Church. Religious figures like these were used on large church alters and nativity scenes at Christmastime. This angel would provide an element of Spanish Colonial design to any room. Or the perfect gift for a lover of angels, cherubs, and putti. Dress him up with tinsel for the holidays or a pink or red cloth for Valentine’s Day.