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Bartolomé Bermejo, Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil

Key facts
Full title Saint Michael triumphant over the Devil with the Donor Antoni Joan
Artist Bartolomé Bermejo
Artist dates about 1440 - about 1501
Date made 1468
Medium and support Oil and gold on wood
Dimensions 179.7 × 81.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought by Private Treaty Sale with a grant from the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, made possible by Mr J. Paul Getty Jnr’s Endowment Fund, 1995
Inventory number NG6553
Location Room 15
Collection Main Collection
Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil
Bartolomé Bermejo

A saint clad in shining armour raises his sword to strike a hideous demon beneath his feet. This is the Archangel Michael fighting the devil, as described in the Book of Revelation. His multi-coloured wings meet over his head and curve protectively around the man who kneels at his feet. This is the donor Antoni Joan, lord of Tous, his heavy gold chain and sword nestled in the crook of his arm identifying him as a knight.

This is the most important fifteenth-century Spanish painting in Britain. It was almost certainly the central part of a polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) commissioned for the high altar of the church of San Miguel in Tous, near Valencia. De Cárdenas, known as ‘Bermejo’ because of his red hair or ruddy complexion, has signed the painting on a folded piece of parchment at the bottom left, using the Latin version of his nickname, ‘Rubeus’.

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