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What is the Meaning behind Baby Angel Paintings?

Since the Italian Renaissance, baby angels have been a source of artist’s interest and fascination. Painters like Raphael and Michelangelo have been the creators of some of the most famous angel paintings. Through the middle ages, Raphael extended the subject of Cupid (the harbingers of love) by creating characters like “putti” who kindle the spirit of love wherever they go.

These manifestations of love looked like male toddlers with wings that gave them the essence of angels. “Cherub” or “cherubim” were the biblical angels representing Heaven’s glory. The Renaissance period saw the expansion of these Biblical angels into Cupids and putti, which were incorporated vehemently in art. 

Let us now explore some of the most famous angel paintings, just as adorable as they are iconic! 

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Painted in 1512, “The Sistine Madonna” was intended for the church of San Sisto in Piacenza on the demand of Pope Julis II. The painting features Virgin Mary or Madonna, descending to the Earth from the heavenly clouds. She cradles Baby Jesus in her arms with Saint Sixtus, kneeled at the left-hand side, guiding the way. 

On the right is Saint Barbara, the patron of the Sisto church, on her knees. The bottom of the painting has two cherubs alighted on the fence. The two cute angels are glancing up towards Mary and baby Jesus in innocent deliberation.

“The Sistine Madonna” also represents humanism, which puts humans and their needs above religious faith. This work is considered one of the most enigmatic masterpieces of the Renaissance master. It has initiated many debates around the meaning behind the painting. 

The Conversion of Saul by Michelangelo

Painted between 1542 and 1549, “The Conversion of Saul” by Michelangelo Buonarroti is considered one of the most renowned religious paintings. True to its name, the painting illustrates the conversion of the evil and torturous Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle.

According to the Bible, Saul was a persecutor of Christians on his way to the city of Damascus. That’s when Jesus decided to confront him by hitting him with a divine beam of light. As a result, the Hebrew Saul dawned with an epiphany that transformed him into an advocate of Christianity. 

The painting depicts Jesus surrounded by angels and Paul by his travel companions. The masterpiece is rich in color and is escalating with vivacity. Paul is falling off his horse in distress, which was equivalent to “falling from pride in Michelangelo’s time.”

Venus at her Mirror by Diego Velázquez

Painted by the Spanish artist of the Spanish Golden Age between 1647 and 1651, “Venus at her Mirror” portrays the Goddess of love, Venus, along with the precursor of affection, Cupid. The painting shows Venus reclined on a couch in a sensual pose as she stares at her alluring reflection. The reflection is formed on the mirror that the baby angel holds up.

The painting also depicts the “Venus Effect,” meaning that Venus is staring at the viewer through the mirror, not herself. The angel Cupid is illustrated with beautiful white wings with a royal blue cloth draped across him. The vivid colors of the sheets and curtains create a contrast and give both the nude subjects an essence of vibrancy. 

The artwork was painted when the Spanish Church detested nude drawings, making this painting a rarity. Its controversial nature even resulted in the slashing of this painting centuries later. It was, however, repaired and returned to the National Gallery in London, where it’s on display. 

The Triumph of Galatea by Raphael 

Created around 1512, “The Triumph of Galatea” is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. Based on Greek mythology, the painting tells the story of Galatea, a sea-nymph, who falls in love with the mortal peasant, Acis. However, their love meets a tragic end when jealous Polyphemus battered Acis with a boulder, leading to his demise.

Galatea mourns his lover by turning his blood into the Sicilian River Acis, which flows even today near Aetna. Raphael has depicted Galatea in triumph as she stands on a seashell chariot pulled by two dolphins, with tritons and other nymphs surrounding her. Three baby angels or putti are flying above her, carrying a bow and arrow. 

Cupid and Psyche as Children by William Adolphe Bouguereau

Popularly known as “L’Amour et Psyché, Enfants,” this painting was created in 1890 by French painter William Adolphe Bouguereau. He was mainly inspired by the story of Cupid and Psyche, as told by Lucius Apuleius in the Golden Ass. The artwork illustrates a butterfly-winged Psyche and an angel-winged cupid, embracing atop a cloud. It’s a representation of love, purity, and innocence.

The textures and outlines bring out the impeccable adorableness of the old baby angels highlighting the classical style. The painting also aims to address subjects like sensuality and sexual intercourse in a subtle manner, especially when these subjects were deemed taboo. 


The angel Renaissance paintings are as historically rich as they are innocent and intriguing. Some of the most famous angel paintings have a destination at the 1st Art Gallery, which is also the world’s largest supplier of Made-to-Order Oil Paintings! So go ahead and venture into the world of endearing paintings of Cupids and angels and hang them in your abode!

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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