Angel with Crown and Flagellum
French France, Angel with Crown and Flagellum, ca. 1460, Oil on panel; 32.4 x 32.4 x 5.1 cm (12 11/16 x 12 11/16 x 2 inches) updated during painting inventory project 12/2, Anonymous gift 60.105
This small painting probably flanked a central devotional image. The contemplative angel is seated in an interior decorated with luxurious furnishings and classical ornamentation. Barefoot and simply robed, he is distinguished by a halo and by wings of pink and green feathers. He holds a flagellum (whip) and a crown, symbols of martyrdom and celestial reward. In the late Middle Ages, particularly during plagues, the flagellum also symbolized atonement and purification. The finials on the tips of the gold crown are in the form of a fleur-de-lys (lily flower), an indication of royalty suggesting that the angel is an attendant to King Louis IX of France (1214–1270), a pious and ascetic man who practiced the penitential use of the flagellum.