National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Gabriel Weather Vane Gabriel Weather Vane
Rendered by Lucille Chabot (artist), c. 1939
watercolor on paper
overall: 36.2 x 52.4 cm (14 1/4 x 20 5/8 in.)
Index of American Design
1943.8.9505
Not on View
From the Tour: Metalwork from the Index of American Design
Object 12 of 17

In early America, weather vanes were a common sight atop churches, barns, and shops. Although many vanes were made of wood, craftsmen who worked in iron, copper, tin, and brass also produced weather vanes of outstanding design and conception, often combining several metals. This weather vane, representing the Angel Gabriel, originally graced the steeple of the Universalist Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The angel is a much less common weather vane subject than, for example, horses or roosters, and the image of Gabriel is rarer still. Although there are several known examples of the archangel blowing his horn, this version appears to be unique. Made in 1840 by the Gould and Hazlett Company of Boston, the angel has a flat body cut from sheet iron and gilded; the tubular horn was made of copper. The pieces were then fastened together with iron rivets. The work shows grace in the flowing contours of the angel's wings and robe, yet it is also crude, in the obvious, heavy bracing that supports the figure. The artist, Lucille Chabot, had to experiment to arrive at a technique that would "get the thing to glow...not to get it grainy." She achieved the desired effect by a "series of glazes, one color over another."

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