Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Arcangelo Michele

Raffaello da Montelupo carved his Archangel Michael (above) from marble in 1544 and gave him copper wings. Nowadays this angel inhabits a small interior courtyard at Castel Sant' Angelo, but until the 18th century he stood on the top terrace, where his bronze replacement makes a splashier show.

Floating at the top, the new Michael with the big wingspread makes sure he is the first thing to be noticed on approach.

Almost anywhere in Rome he can be spotted, a baroque logo.

Alexander VI put up a plaque (with more angels) to memorialize the fortifications he added, hoping they would help him withstand a siege. The Borgia coat of arms (which the angels are ostensibly supporting) was hacked off by those who came after him.

I wonder how the various Ruler-Popes felt up here on the ramparts. More omnipotent or just more threatened?

This is the height from which Tosca leaps to her death. She does it every time the opera is performed, just before the final curtain.

And Bernini's angels bless the bridge.