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Statuette - St. Michael

St. Michael

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (or Spanish, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1460-1490 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory

  • Museum number:

    361-1854

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This statuette in carved ivory represents Saint Michael and is either from the Netherlands or Spanish, made in ca. 1460-1490.
It was previously considered to depict St. George and the dragon.

It shows the Saint in complete armour, holding his sword above his head and a tiny round shield in his left hand, about to strike a horned dragon upon whom he tramples, who represents Satan. Images of the Archangel Michael vanquishing the Devil, both painted and sculpted and from the monumental to the miniature, were immensely popular in the Gothic period. However ivory statuettes of the saint are not common. A Spanish origin, most likely in the medieval Crown of Aragon (comprising Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia), is probable, notwithstanding the difficulties of separating Spanish works of art of this type and date from their Netherlandish models. The V&A ivory shares its dramatic pose, with sword-holding arm lifted high above the head, with Bartolomé Bermejo's painted panel of 1468, now in the National Gallery in London, once the central panel of an altarpiece formerly in the church of San Miguel in Tous, near Valencia. Another small but unusual detail links the two images: the devil's limbs in both cases issue from beasts' heads.

Physical description

Statuette of the Saint in complete armour, holding his sword above his head and a tiny round shield in his left hand, about to strike the prostrate horned dragon upon whom he tramples. He is shown trampling on Satan in the form of a dragon, with a gilt-metal sword in his raised right hand and a small circular buckler with a cross motif in his left. Carved in the round, the figure is fully armoured in the style of the years 1460-90, although his feathered skirt, with hanging tassets, is imaginary rather than based on actual models.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (or Spanish, made)

Date

ca. 1460-1490 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory

Dimensions

Height: 11.7 cm

Object history note

Previously considered to depict St. George and the dragon. Purchased in 1854 (£10); according to Longhurst it was acquired in London, but this has not been confirmed in the Museum records.

Descriptive line

Statuette, St Michael vanquishing the Devil, carved ivory, Spanish or Netherlandish, ca. 1460-90

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1854. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 15
p. 1
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
pl. XL, 4
Maskell, A., Ivories, London, 1905
p. 108 (not illustrated)
Longhurst, Margaret H., Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929
part 1, pp. 105-106
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
p. 1
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
pl. XL, 4
Maskell, A., Ivories, London, 1905
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part 1, pp. 105-106, cat. no. 31

Materials

Ivory

Subjects depicted

Dragon; Devil; Sword

Categories

Sculpture; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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