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This panel of the Archangel Michael fighting the Devil was once part of an altarpiece painted by Crivelli for the church of San Domenico in Ascoli Piceno in the Italian Marche. Michael is shown as a youthful prince, his sword raised with nonchalant ease to strike the writhing devil beneath his feet. At once refined and ferocious, Michael’s pale aristocratic beauty and glittering armour make a vivid contrast to the scaly skin, furred legs and vicious talons of the demon below him.

Showing off his talent for foreshortening – distorting objects to make them appear to recede into the picture plane – Crivelli shows us the top of Michael’s and Satan’s heads, as they gaze at each other in eternal combat. He was also a master of three-dimensional effects. Here, the saint’s coronet and armour are modelled to stand out from the flat surface of the panel.

Details

  • Title: Saint Michael
  • Creator: Carlo Crivelli
  • Date Created: 1476
  • Physical Dimensions: 90.5 x 26.5 cm
  • Medium: Tempera on poplar
  • School: Italian
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Artist Dates: about 1430/5 - about 1494
  • Artist Biography: Crivelli was born in Venice and probably trained with Squarcione in Padua. He spent most of his life in the Marches (eastern central Italy), after periods in Venice and Zara. Crivelli was active as a painter by 1457 when he was condemned in Venice for adultery. He was very successful as a maker of altarpieces in the Marches. These are especially well represented in the Collection. Crivelli was influenced by the Vivarini at an early stage. From Squarcione, or one of his pupils such as Giorgio Schiavone, Crivelli could learn simulated marble architecture; festoons of fruit; parchment cartellini and music-making putti. Venetian painting up to this point had been dominated by the Late Gothic style, such as that of Jacopo Bellini and his son Gentile. Crivelli was a fine technical painter and his pictures are in a good state of preservation. He had a strong linear decorative sense and was a brilliant colourist. His work was particularly appreciated in the 19th century, as witnessed by the price paid for the Gallery's 'Madonna della Rondine'.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1868

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