– When seeking for some adequate illustrations of St Michael Archangel for one of my recent posts here, I fully realized the enormous quantity of artworks from all epochs, since the oldest Biblic times, representing him. Perhaps no other figure in Judaeo-Christian culture, aside of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary, has been so repeatedly painted, drawn, engraved and sculptured.
Among the various motives and scenes most often represented, the absolute favourite is Michael’s defeat of Satan –be it in anthropomorphic appearance or as a dragon, worm or serpent, as told in John’s Revelation (Apokalypsis Ioannou). The book (12:7-9) describes a war in heaven in which Michael, being stronger, casts Satan down to earth (or hell, which is pretty much the same) :
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels [going forth] to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels;
8 And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.
[Text according to the American Standard Bible translation.]
As a matter of fact, from the early 4th century on, the image of the Archangel clad as a warrior subduing a dragon became the standard iconograpy relative to him.
On Dickensian Times in Catalonia & An untold prayer to St Michael Archangel I showed two artworks depicting this emblematic, truly unforgettable scene: a 18th century Catalan carved and polychrome statue and a painting by Guido Reni from 1636. I have chosen now three more works that I consider especially beautiful, original and, thus, worthy of divulgation (at least among my few followers, lovers of art). They come from the 13th (Catalan Romanesque), 15th (Provençal School of painting) and 17th (Russian icon-painting) centuries.
Josse Lieferinxe (active 1493-1508 in Marseille) was an Occitan painter of South Netherlandish origin or, at least, descent; also known by the pseudonym Maître de Saint Sébastien. He belonged in the Provençal School.
–Simon (Pimen) Fyodorovich Ushakov (Russian: Симон (Пимен) Федорович Ушаков) (1626 – 1686) was a leading Russian icon painter of the late 17th-century.
–The heading illustration shows a detail from the famous Altar frontal of the Archangels (second quarter of the 13th century) by the Mestre de Sant Pau de Casserres – one of the many treasures from Catalan Romanesque art. The piece is exhibited at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, in Barcelona (MNAC).
Here down is the complete picture at a somewhat lower resolution:
[All illustrations come from Wikimedia Commons]