The Wolsey Angels by Benedetto da Rovezzano commissioned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Welcome to “Art, Culture & Books” with me Anthony King. Today I’ll be taking you on a video and photographic tour of The Wolsey Angels by Benedetto da Rovezzano (born 1474) which were commissioned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. They’re at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

As always, I take all the photos and videos myself on location, ensuring you get an up-close and personal view of the fascinating world of art and culture. I’ll be popping in and out with commentary as this video progresses but for now let’s take a close up look.

Benedetto da Rovezzano, an Italian sculptor active in England from 1519 to around 1540, created the Wolsey Angels—four statues commissioned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey for his tomb. Wolsey, once a powerful adviser to Henry VIII, lost influence in 1524 after failing to convince the pope to annul the king’s marriage.

After Wolsey’s death in 1530, Henry VIII acquired the statues for his unfinished tomb. Sold in the 1640s during England’s Civil War, the statues reappeared in 1994 and 2008, two at an auction and the others at a Northamptonshire country house.

Benedetto da Rovezzano, a contemporary of Michelangelo, excelled in marble, stone, and bronze work during his English years. His notable 1508 commission included completing Michelangelo’s lost bronze ‘David.’ The angel crafted by Benedetto resembles those in Andrea Sansovino’s earlier Florence altar (c. 1491-92), and a similar type appeared in the ‘Translation of the Body of San Giovanni Gualberto,’ now in the Museo del Cenacolo di San Salvi, Florence.

The V&A inform us of an interesting point about their restoration:

“Not originally intended for outdoor exposure, their surfaces have altered radically over time. The separation of each pair of Angels accounts for their difference in appearance, together with the loss of their wings. Extensive conservation work at the V&A has now enlivened the appearance of the Angels and ensured their future preservation.”

They did a great job! You may have noticed that some were missing today. We’ll return to look at the full collection when they’re there.

By Anthony King (c)