London/Ipswich: Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) needs £5million to keep 16th Century ‘Wolsey Angels’ made for tomb of Cardinal Wolsey

Bronze candle-bearing angel, about 1524-9, England, by Benedetto da Rovezzano (1474-1554). © Victori

Bronze candle-bearing angel, about 1524-9, England, by Benedetto da Rovezzano (1474-1554). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London - Credit: Archant

A London museum is appealing for help to raise £5million to protect four reunited Renaissance angel statues originally made for Cardinal Wolsey’s tomb.

The one-metre bronze figures, dubbed the Wolsey Angels, are on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) after going missing for almost 500 years.

They were cast by Florentine sculptor Benedetto da Rovezzano in 1524 for a lavish tomb for Wolsey, born in Ipswich and chief advisor to Henry VIII.

Martin Roth, V&A director, said the angels are a “vital part of our national history and artistic heritage”.

“Little of Benedetto da Rovezzano’s English work survives and we are fortunate to be able to put these outstanding sculptures, made for the Tudor court, on display,” he added.


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“The angels would be a highly significant addition to the National Collection of Sculpture, held and preserved at the V&A for the future.”

Wolsey, who fell from grace after failing to obtain the Pope’s consent to annul Henry VIII’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, died before the tomb was finished.

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The angels were seized and were not seen until two emerged at a Sotheby’s sale in 1994. The other two were found at Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire in 2008.

They are exhibited at the V&A but £5m is needed to ensure they remain on display.

Visit mydonate.bt.com/events/wolseyangels to donate.

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