Christmas Cherubs

The snails at Columbus Circle were setting the pace for the Christmas crowds in Manhattan on the weekend. At the intersection of the Rockefeller Center, Saks and St Patrick’s Cathedral, the rivers of revelers spilled from the pavement onto the outside lanes of Fifth Avenue and brought tyred traffic to a standstill. With the opportunity to ice-skate, enjoy the window displays and give thanks, the crowds ebbed and flowed as opportunity allowed, but invariably jostled for a souvenir picture in front of the tree. The 75 foot Norway Spruce has been a pageant like prize since 1931 and an intrinsic part of the New York Christmas experience – although there is another tree, much less hallowed but much more enchanting, just up the road…

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a blue spruce is adorned with 18th century cherubs and angels, and with music of the same vintage filling the hall, the unique collection of creche figures surrounding the tree seem to come to life. This amazing assemblage is the legacy of Loretta Hines Howard, who started collecting in 1924 and then conceived of the idea to bring the religious and the decorative together, and so began a tradition that her daughter and then her daughter continues. Each year new pieces are added to the collection and even though the Nativity and the Magi have center stage, there is always room for the turbaned, the tanned and more townspeople – plus the odd elephant and flock of sheep. Each piece is a work of art, handmade and enriched with embroidery or jewels or daggers, depending on the character. I wonder about the delight of one woman who passionately pursued this unique collection and then gifted it to the MET for everyone to enjoy. But with all those cherubs and angels, I also wonder about Christmas at the Howards in the early days – just imagine how big the tree had to be….!

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11 Responses to Christmas Cherubs

  1. Rob Richardson says:

    Happy New Year from Down Under

  2. Vivienne says:

    All the best for 2014. What an amazing collection!

  3. Thank you . and all the very best for 2014.

  4. Jenny R says:

    Gorgeous photos. I took my own photos of those wonderful snails at Columbus Circle the day before yesterday. The Christmas decorations and street art in NYC are a highlight for me.

    Have a wonderful 2014 Fitzy.

    • Thanks Jenny and wishing you all the very best. Hope you are having a fabulous time here & keeping warm!

      • Jenny R says:

        So far so good, the worst we had of the weather was Sunday 22nd when we were totally unprepared for 21 degrees celcius..it was actually warmer here than at home in Melb that day. The heavy rain the following Sunday wasn’t great either – we went on a tour of the beautiful Woolworth’s Building. Tomorrow’s forecast of 17 farenheit is a bit scary…a day in a museum me thinks!!

  5. Dallas Colley says:

    Delightful! All honour to following traditions and collectors enthusiasm
    Wishing youall good things in 2014

    • And also to you Dallas! I knew you would love those cherubs. We are standing by for ‘Hercules’ to arrive, which may bring the means and the inspiration for some interesting snow sculptures…

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