Images & Icons
David Summers: Passacaglia degli Angeli
The festival has commissioned a painting reflecting the form and content of the Biber Passacaglia from David Summers, who has made paintings for the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival since its inception in 2000. Further information about the image can be found below the photograph.
The painting is called "Passacaglia degli Angeli (For Tim)." It is a row of empty bottles on a sheet of aluminum, with a second vertical sheet behind them, and a generous scattering angels. There are thus two reflective planes, a row of bottles parallel to the upright plane, and transparent cylinders constantly changing with the daylight. Within this simple order, refractions and reflections are endless variations, of which the touches of paint are yet another, fixed variation. Courbet (c. 1850) said he could not paint angels because he had never seen one, but according to certain earlier authorities, we all have a guardian angel, and this is a sample of some of the angels that have been made to appear, all of them now at least partially refracted.
From left to right, there is an angel blowing a horn from the Linaiuoli Altarpiece, by the pious and prayerful Fra Angelico; above is a student work, School of Fra Angelico, of the angel Gabriel from an Annunciation. Next is an angel from an Assumption of the Virgin by El Greco. She looks like a skinny Spanish girl with the splendid wings of a great bird. Beneath her are the bemused angels from Raphael's Sistine Madonna. (Only one is fully visible.) Next, and central, is a gilded sculpture of St. Michael, protector of the Church, followed by an adoring angel from another Annunciation, this time by Andrea del Sarto, the painter who made no mistakes. Next to him are two angels singing, from Raphael's unfinished Madonna del Baldacchino, and below these last two is a medieval representation of guardian angels at work, Daniel in the Lion's Den. Red lions menace Daniel from both sides, but equally red angels minister to his needs and protect him from above, with good results. Smaller angels are salted throughout the painting, and the series ends with an angel from the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral, to the right of the medieval Daniel..
© David Summers