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Saint Michael Sculptor of the Upper Rhine


Sculptor of the Upper Rhine 15th century

Culture German
Date ca. 1470
Object type sculpture
Medium, technique painted and carved lime-wood

76 x 26 x 19 cm

Inventory number 84.17
Collection Sculpture
On view Museum of Fine Arts, First Floor, European Art 1250-1600, Gallery XIV

Saint Michael the Archangel became a popular saint in the medieval period and his depiction was widespread. As the leader of the heavenly armies, he became the epitome of the fight against evil, the Devil and, ultimately, heresy. Accordingly, he was often depicted with a defeated dragon or devil at his feet. In this sculpture Michael was originally holding a spear, stuck into the dragon’s mouth. The gilding on his clothing did not only serve a decorative function but it also evoked the heavenly sphere in the eyes of the faithful. Composed to be viewed from a single perspective, the statuette may well have stood in a niche or possibly on a larger altar. The saint’s wavy and rich hair as well as the concave pleating of his attire show an affinity with statues by Niklaus von Hagenau, who was working in Strasbourg.
It was not until 1984 that this wooden statuette, having been gifted, became officially part of the collection. Even so, it had been on deposit in the museum since 1921 and had been displayed in the permanent exhibitions.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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