In one of LEO Design's earliest years—on Bleecker Street—I acquired this pair of Italian polychromed terracotta angels, candle-bearers. Perhaps it was 1996 or 1997. I knew nothing of them, except that I liked them. They weren't old but they were Italian and they were sensational. On that first year, I placed them into the shop window on Christmas Eve.
Over the next week, while they were still guarding the window, I got the occasional price enquiry but no serious interest. The next year (and the year after that) the angels made their way into the shop window on Christmas Eve. By now, the placement had become a bit of a ritual: at about 9:30 pm, half and hour before closing time, I (and whomever was working Christmas Eve with me) would process up to the window and place them carefully within the setting—with all due pomp and ceremony. They were still for-sale, yet, for three years, they remained unsold.
By the fourth year, I had grown very fond of them. And the custom of putting them into the window on Christmas Eve was now firmly entrenched. Some customers had begun to recognize this LEO Design "tradition." It was at this point that I decided that they would graduate from "stock merchandise" to "permanent fixture." I removed the price ticket. They would now be an enduring part of LEO Design's annual observance.
As you may expect, only now did any customers really express great interest in buying the angels. Ever since that year, I have kept in-mind an "informal waiting list" of "interested potential buyers" (Andrew, you're first).
While the Greenwich Village shop existed, the angels made their annual appearance—every Christmas Eve. During the relatively quiet hours, late on Christmas Eve (we stayed open until 10:00 pm), we would tidy-up, prepare for the coming week, and install these angels into the window before leaving for the night. There they would preside through New Year's Day, after which time they would be safely packed-away (with all the Christmas decor) until the next Christmas season.
Since acquiring them, I did learn a little about them. First, the male angel was (originally) carved by Michelangelo Buonarotti for San Domenico's sensational tomb in Bologna. It was one of Michelangelo's first commissions—in 1494, while the sculptor was still a teenager. These terracotta angels are approximately the actual size of the marble originals. Michelangelo's contribution to Domenic's tomb came towards the end of the 2.5 centuries during which the monument was carved.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248