Cherub Garden Statues

Cherubs started as artistic Biblical images and religious icons seen on church buildings, but their beauty and symbolism inspired artists to make them prominent figures and characters in paintings, frescoes, and sculptures. these winged beings, often depicted as childlike angels, are famous images in art history and are often seen in scultpures for the garden. Cherubs are very similar in appearance to, and at times synonymous to: angels, putti, seraphim, and cupid. Cherubs most often symbolize godly or romantic love, as displayed in our Love Letter Sculptural Box.


The Love Letter Sculptural Box

Cherubs first appeared as images painted on the walls of Jewish temples during Bible times. They continued to appear in Christian art, but after the Renaissance, putti overtook the traditional Christian image of cherubs as angelic messengers of God. Originally, putti were defined as souls that looked like winged children, instead of actually being cherubs, which were religious symbols. Thus, cherubs or putti transitioned in art to simply being sweet, playful creatures like our  popular Angelic Play Hanging Sculpture.


Angelic Play Hanging Sculpture - LargePutti also made their way onto church frescoes and into the works of Renaissance painters such as Raffaelleo Sanzio (Raphael) who painted the famous two cherubs in the detail of the Sistine Chapel Madonna. Raphael’s Cherub sculptures are depicted as young childlike creatures with pudgy, soft skin, and innocent faces. The cherubs gaze heavenward toward the Madonna, deep in thought and adoration.


Even though historically, Putti and Cherubs were different (Putti were profane; Cherubs, sacred), “Putto” and “Cherub” are now used interchangeably in art to describe the image of a winged, childlike angel, such as our Sleepy Time Sculptural Angel and our Afternoon Nap Angel  garden angel sculptures Found in Italian Renaissance art and beyond, putti are usually male, pudgy, and naked. The word “putto” literally means child in Italian. Putti and cherubs can be found in secular art in addition to religious art. The best-known putti artists are Raphael and Donatello and those who modeled their artwork after these masters.


Sleepy Time Sculptural Angel

Sleepy Time Sculptural Angel

Cupid and Psyche, the romantic painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau exhibits putti beautifully, employing their help in inspiring Cupid and Eros to discover love. We’ve captured this famous image in marble sculpture and wall frieze.



Afternoon Nap Angel Sculpture.

Afternoon Nap Angel Sculpture



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Religious Outdoor Statues

In many world religions and cultures, angels exist as attendants, guardians, warriors, and messengers of a supreme being. Artists took these interpretations and created paintings, sculptures, and other priceless masterpieces for churches, cathedrals, and cemeteries. The English word “cherub” is derived from the word “angel,” hence cherubs appearing as young, childlike angels. Most often, angels are understood as divine or human messengers that intermediate between God and man.


Although the characteristics and origins of angels vary depending on religious or cultural interpretation, it was after Biblical Judaism that angels rose to their significant roles and rank. Prodigious numbers of angels developed specific jobs, such as guardian angels, and a systematic hierarchy came about. The proximity to God, or another supreme being, determined the hierarchy. In the first hierarchy were Cherubim, Seraphim, and Thrones. Archangels and angels were in the third hierarchy. The Christian interpretation of angles included individual angelic messengers with distinct characteristics both in theology and art, such as the Archangel St. Michael. St. Michael is the subject of many famous angel paintings and garden angel statues.


Angel statues as iconographic art go back to Christian images of angels from the third century on catacombs, sarcophagi, lamps, and other relics. What’s interesting is that these early depictions of angels are depicted without wings. Winged angels didn’t come into art and icons until later, when angel’s wings were interpreted to indicate the angels’ sublime nature and ability to descend to earth. Modern day angels usually have wings, white, flowing robes, a halo, and serene expression, as can be seen in our Music from Heaven Angel Sculpture.

Music from Heaven Angel Statue

Music from Heaven Garden Angel Sculpture.

Angels are important architectural accents on many historical churches and surrounding gardens. We’ve replicated such angel wall sculptures as the Santa Croce Angel that originally was found on an Italian church wall. Angel sculptures also memorialize those who have passed on, as they are used in cemeteries and graveyards, like our Angel of Grief Monument Statue, based on the original by William Wetmore Story. An original found in a Roman cemetery inspired our Resting Grace Sitting Angel Sculpture.  Rememberance and Redemption Angel Sculpture is a good example of a garden angel sculpture.

Design Toscano is the destination for religious outdoor statues, garden angel statues, and garden statuary accents.

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Gargoyles, A Historical Perspective

Best known for their menacing presence in 12th-century Gothic architecture, the first Gargoyle statues were carved 4000 years earlier in ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. The word “gargoyle” is derived from the old French word “Gargouille,” which means, “throat.” This is because, originally, gargoyle sculptures were functional rainspouts, and only later did these statues serve as spiritual guardians against evil, protecting the cathedral or building they adorned. Because gargoyles also represented evil and mischief, the Catholic Church commissioned gargoyle statues on their cathedrals also to warn recent converts about proper, Christian behavior, because the vast majority of the population was illiterate.


Throughout history, gargoyle statues have manifested in many different forms. The most common gargoyle statues were grotesques—also known as chimeras—part human and part beast. Gargoyle sculptures were carved with the faces of friends and family as architectural homages. In Medieval architecture, Gargoyles were often grotesque animals carved from stone, iron, or lead, usually depicted ready to leap or take flight. These chimeras, such as our Catgoyle on the Loose, were prominent during medieval times.


Notre Dame is the most famous cathedral known for its architectural grotesques and gargoyles. Constructed in Paris during the Early Gothic Era (1163-1285), the abundance of gargoyles and architectural construction is credited to Viollet-le-Duc, the architect whose life work would become the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Viollet-le-Duc’s famous gargoyles serve artistic purposes only—symbolic, religious, decorative, and whimsical statues that adorn the Paris landmark’s façade. The Spitting Gargoyle of Notre Dame, which we’ve faithfully replicated, is considered a legendary icon of gothic architecture and gargoyle sculpture.


But it is the church of Saint-Severin that is known as a hidden treasure of gargoyles in Paris. A favorite architectural landmark of Design Toscano owner Mike Stopka, taking a 360-degree walk around will reveal that gargoyles cover the entire exterior of the cathedral. Saint-Severin also displays some of the best rain gutter examples of gargoyles. We offer Roland, the Gargoyle Rainspout as our own homage to the original, functional gargoyles!


Greenmen sculptures are also variations on the gargoyle and grotesque genre of statues and architecture.


Whether you choose a historical reproduction of the gargoyle sculptures found in Paris, such as Emmett the Gargoyle, or a modern homage to the classic chimera like Gaston, the Gothic Climber Gargoyle, at Design Toscano, we offer gargoyles and grotesques inspired by the Gothic architecture energized by Viollet-le-Duc himself.

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Having fun with Big Foot

Big Foot, an elusive, mythical legend has finally been sighted at a party in the Western United States.  Often thought of as a shy creature, this photograph taken at a recent party suggests that he also likes a good party.
This Bigfoot Statue has been created for Design Toscano as a quality designer resin statue and hand-painted for startling realism. With his characteristically big ...feet, our Big Foot garden statue will have your guests doing a double-take as they admire your creative decor style! (Not Available dressed up. Photo courtesy of our friends at SkyMall).
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Dragon Lore

Prominently featured in the myths of many eastern and western cultures, dragons are more than just fire-breathing creatures from legend. They also hold spiritual and cultural significance the world over. The word “dragon” can be traced back to the Greek word “drakon,” which referred to the dragon’s serpentine and reptilian characteristics. The Latin word for dragon is “draco.” In art, the dragon has been captured in the form of dragon garden statues, paintings, and at Design Toscano, as unique furniture like the Warwickshire Dragon Coffee Table.


Dragons are usually depicted with the scaly body of a large lizard or serpent, often with monstrous bat-like wings and at times, the ability to breathe fire. The winged dragon is characteristic of Western European lore, where dragons live in protected lairs, such as caves, and are known as malevolent creatures of the earth. With fanged teeth, as modeled by our Stoker’s Moors Dragon Skull Statue, dragons epitomized a menacing prowler throughout thousands of years of mythology, representing evil in contrast to the good knight.


The snake-like dragon derives from the legends of the Orient. In many Asian cultures, dragons often represented the spiritual forces of the universe, and they also possessed magical powers themselves that granted supreme wisdom and power. Culturally, Chinese dragons are seen, unlike their western counterparts, as kind, intelligent, benevolent creatures and are a common site in China. Depicted like a scaly serpent, the Chinese dragon is ubiquitous in Chinese art and folklore.


Since dragons are known to have the powers of a shape shifter, we’ve depicted dragons in their many different incarnations and roles. For a truly menacing interpretation based on the European style, our Warsin Dragon Statue brings to mind the ancient battle of knights versus dragons. In honor of the noble dragons that guarded castle moats, we’ve sculpted the Dragon of Falkenberg Castle complete with scales, wings, and a treacherous tail.


Whether you're looking to honor the ancient spirit of the dragons found in Asian myth or you're more drawn to the legendary power and ferocity of Medieval dragons, Design Toscano offers many Gothic decor, Dragon garden statues, Japanese garden statues, and Medieval knight statues from which to choose.
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Design Toscano History

Design Toscano is the country's premier source for statues and other historical and antique replicas, which are available through our catalog, website and Gallery store located in Arlington Heights, IL.

Michael and Marilyn Stopka, created Design Toscano in 1990. While on a trip to Paris, the Stopkas first saw the marvelous carvings of gargoyles and water spouts at the Notre Dame Cathedral.  Inspired by the beauty and mystery of these pieces, they decided to introduce the world of medieval gargoyles to America in 1993. On a later trip to Albi, France, the Stopkas had the pleasure of being exposed to the world of Jacquard tapestries that they added quickly to the growing catalog and web site.

Since then, our product line has grown to include Egyptian art and decor, Medieval decor and other period pieces that are now among the current favorites of Design Toscano customers, along with an extensive collection of outdoor garden water fountains, garden statuary, authentic canvas replicas of oil painting masterpieces, and other antique art reproductions.

At Design Toscano, we pride ourselves on attention to detail by traveling directly to the source for all historical replicas. Over 90% of our catalog offerings are exclusive to the Design Toscano brand, allowing us to present unusual decorative items unavailable elsewhere.  

This fall's exclusive finds have all of us more excited than usual! We've discovered new shops on London's Portobello Road, been transported back in time while searching ateliers on Paris' Left Bank, and struck up friendships with the proprietors of Venetian antique shoppes. Expect the unexpected from Design Toscano and enjoy this delightful season!

Mike and Marilyn
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