Each angel musician is seen holding a different instrument. The left angel is seen playing a zither. A zither is an ancient musical device that closely resembles a harp, but the person plucks the strings of the zither when it is positioned horizontally across the person’s body. The center angel is playing a bagpipe, although the features of the bagpipe make it difficult to identify what instrument this is. The right angel is playing on a set of timbrels, which look like miniature drums that are worn across the person’s waist.
The Pisan School is named after the Italian city named Pisa, which is probably where this sculpture was made from. The sculpture was located in a room surrounded by various Italian tapestries. The figure is pretty small to see from far away so I took a closer look at the sculpture so I could see the different curves, lines and features of the angels that are present. The great thing about the Norton Simon Museum is that the staff allows patrons to take pictures of paintings or any type of artwork because many students comes to this museum for their art-related papers.
The figures in this sculpture look like women, who are probably older in age, possibly around their fifties. They are wearing garments that resemble a toga from Greek culture. The garment goes all the way down toward the ground and it covers their feet so you cannot see them. The facial expression of the angels indicates that they are happy and they are passionate in playing purposeful music for a specific occasion. The marble sculptures have a blend of white and tan colors. The blend is woven throughout the sculpture creating a uniform color as a statue.
After doing some research, I found out that the Pisan School is actually the artist of “Three Angel Musicians. ” There is only a minimal amount of information from this artist, but after looking at some different art pieces, it seems that the Pisan School creates paintings and sculptures with a biblical theme. One example is titled Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Saints. In this piece, the Pisan School shows a picture of a child, who appears to be that of the newborn Christ. Surrounding the child include the Virgin Mary along with 2 female saints and 2 male saints.
Without knowing much about the Pisan School, I would hypothesize that the “Three Angel Musicians” has some type of religious component attached to this piece. After looking at the various features of the marble statue, I would expect these musicians to play at an important event within the Italian culture. For example, these musicians could play for the birth of a new child or the celebration of a certain “victory” for one of the Italian cities. The facial expressions of the musicians indicated that they are happy individuals that are excited to be in the environment they are in.
I would assume that these musicians play an important role in society because the instruments they play are not typically found in everyday society. Bagpipes, a zither and timbrels are all instruments that refer back to ancient times. Possibly, by playing these instruments, the angels are playing an ode to ancient Gods that ruled over these Italian lands centuries ago. Not only does the music of the angels create an aura of peace and tranquility, but their music is used to pay tribute to deities that are present in ancient Italian cultures.
One distinguishing symbol that I saw form this sculpture is that the angel who is playing the timbrels is missing a right hand. Looking at the timbrels themselves, only one timbrel stick can be seen with the left hand. Even though this angel has this handicap, her facial expressions indicated that she is proud to be playing such music for a special occasion in Italian culture. The hairstyle of the three angels represents a traditional form where women grew their hair out long and they braided only top portions of the hair.
The angels feel like they are respected members of society, even though during ancient cultures, women were often characterized as “beneath men. ” Playing instruments for special occasions seems like a job that a male would do. However, the Pisan School wants to illustrate that women play an important role specifically with this Italian culture. This marble sculpture hopes to illustrate the importance of women in society and that they can handle important roles that historically might be given to a male individual. Women play an integral role in ancient societies and this sculpture illustrates this point very well.