As Barbara pointed out already in her post “What if your dreams come true?” we are working on a part in our show about “flying” and “spreading your wings”. Looking for examples of flying creatures, one of the first coming to my mind are of course angels. The main distinction between these creatures and us seems to be the wings on their back. When I was visiting the Gallerie dell’Academia in Venice some days ago, I saw a beautiful example by Carlo Saraceni (1579–1620), painted around 1610:
Carlo Saraceni Saint Cecilia and the Angel (around 1610)
The woman tuning the lute is saint Cecilia, the patroness of musicians and the angel is protecting her and the musical instruments with big, very naturalistic wings. When I see all the instruments on the picture, all referring to music and sound,I start to wonder how the angel’s wings sound. Is it just “flapping” like bird wings? Or is it something more “angel”like, with sounds we human beings don’t know yet?
Another painting in this exhibition, also by Saraceni, tells us what happens when we human beings carry wings ourselves. It is a depiction of “The Fall of Icarus”. Ignoring the warnings of his father, Icarus flies too close to the sun. The wax holding the feathers of his wings together melts and he falls into the sea where he drowns. The wings are attached here to the arms of Icarus and his father, making a much less stable impression than the angel’s wings above. How do these wings sound? More like birds? Or are these more clumsy sounds, making clear that these wings are fragile and instable human-made extensions to our body?