Private collection, France
The present panel depicting Saint Michael and the Devil was originally part of an altarpiece produced in Spain in the first quarter of the 16th century.
Saint Michael was one of the seven archangels of God in the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation describes a war in heaven led by him against God’s enemies. The ‘dragon’, identified as the Devil or Satan, is defeated and thrown down to the earth. Here, flanked by angels, the winged saint spears the horned and clawed Lucifer who lies defeated at his feet.
In Catholic tradition, Saint Michael, honoured as the leader of the heavenly host, serves various distinct roles. Just as he had defeated Satan in celestial combat, so he provides aid in the spiritual struggle fought in every human soul. Associated with the hope of salvation, this subject often includes, as it does in the present example, depictions of the weighing of the souls of the blessed and the damned in images of the Last Judgment.
This work is in excellent condition with extensive remains of the orignal polychrome and gilding.