Quick! What do angels look like?
Probably not like this, at least not according to most images in the media.
The angel in the foreground is what we tend to think of. The angel in the background is closer to what is described in the Book of Daniel. The artist who painted this amazing altarpiece had a very different “take” on a lot of things compared to his contemporaries, and the people who commissioned the work gave him a great deal of freedom.
“At His feet the six-winged seraph/ Cherubim with sleepless eye/ Veil their faces at His presence and in ceaseless voice they cry/ Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia Lord most High.” From the last verse of “Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silent”, often sung at Advent but actually about the second coming.
Those who have read Madeline Le’Engle’s A Wind at the Door might recall that one of the characters is a cherubim, who looks nothing at all like the “cherubs” or putti seen in church and other art. They are not plump babies with wings, oh no, not in the Tanakh or the Book of Revelation, not in the least. If they were, their first words would not be “Fear not!” every time they appear in their true forms.