St Michael – 2

Medieval artists used all the means at their disposal to depict St Michael, not just screen paintings (ND Sept 2011). He is is often shown weighing souls in places like the Wenhaston Doom (ND Dec 2012) and in stained glass. Here are three contrasting pieces of glass painting, from the 1330s at Eaton Bishop (Herefs: 1); c. 1450 at Martham (2: Norfolk); and from the early sixteenth century at Fairford (3: Glos.). He is also weighing souls in the striking wall painting at South Leigh (4: Oxon); the Virgin adds her Rosary in support of the soul.

One of the very finest depictions to be found is St Michael slaying the dragon in the mid-twelfth-century sculpture in the tympanum of the entrance to the octagonal Romanesque church of Saint-Michel d’Entraygues in the suburbs of Angoulême (5: Charente), a church that Abadie restored but did not ruin. The great Émile Mâle wrote ‘Le saint Michel le plus vivant que le XII° siècle ait créé est au portail de Saint-Michel d’Entraygues’, and if he didn’t know, no one does. After which one can only say: ‘Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio.

2017-10-19T19:35:36+00:00 September 2015 Articles|