The National Museum of Western Art

update 04 October 2019

on display Permanent collection

Sienese School of the 14th century 

St. Michael and the Dragon

Materials/Techniquestempera on panel
Size (cm)40.5 x 19
Credit LinePurchased
CategoryPaintings
Collection NumberP.1968-0003
St. Michael and the Dragon

While some might consider the knight fighting a dragon to be St. George, the wings on the knight and the fact that he is not astride a horse indicate that he is actually the Archangel Michael. This image is based on Revelations 12:7-9, which describes a battle in heaven when the Archangel Michael defeated the dragon who was cast out of the heavens and fell to earth. The two stories of subjugating a dragon, those related to the Archangel Michael and St. George, are often confused, as here where Michael is show subjugating the monster on earth. The archangel is seen against a gold ground, holding a shield in his left hand while pinning a dragon to the ground with the lance held in his right hand. The brilliant contrasting colors of red, white, yellow and green rust combine with the detailed rendering of facial nuances in green to clearly reflect the decoratively lyric style of the 14th century Sienese school. This work was formerly in the Loeser Collection of Florence, where it was attributed to Lorenzetti. Everett Fahy and Federico Zeri later attributed the work to Barna, an anonymous painter who created the New Testament frescos in the Collegiata di San Gimignano. In recent years, however, the argument has arisen that the work was created by the Master of the Rebel Angels, a follower of Simone Martini active in Avignon. Another theory considers the work to be by an artist in the circle of Niccolò di Ser Sozzo. Further work is needed to firmly attribute this painting.(Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 2)

Provenance

Loeser, Firenze (attributed to Lorenzetti); Frederick Mont; New YorkPurchased by the NMWA, 1969.

Exhibition History

2000
Tanka at the National Museum of Western Art: An Encounter between Poet and Art, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 25 July 2000 - 29 October 2000, cat. no. 9

Bibliography

1969
Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. No. 3 (1968), 1969, Catalogue of the New Acquisitions. pp. 38-39, no. P-372. repr.
1971
Les cent chefs-d'œuvre du Musée National d'Art Occidental. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1971 (Japanese), no. 1, repr.
1975
Les cent chefs-d'œuvre du Musée National d'Art Occidental. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1975 (Japanese), no. 2, repr.
1978
Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1978 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 2, repr.
1979
The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo: Catalogue of paintings. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1979, no. 16, repr.
2006
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2006 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 2, col. repr.
2009
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2009, no. 2, col. repr.
2013
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 2, col. repr.

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