St. Michael the Archangel

Central Russia
1725-1750 c.
Room 2
Tempera on wood
13,7x11,2 cm
1890 n. 9330

This icon depicts St. Michael the Archangel, canonically represented in warrior's clothing wearing a red mantel embellished with gold highlights over his shoulders. In his right hand he holds a red flag with a white cross, while in his left he holds scales, an instrument for weighing souls. According to the story in Revelation (Rev. 12: 7-8), archangel Michael, commander of the heavenly legions, fights against the rebellious angels and defeats Satan. This is why he is depicted in warrior clothing and almost always with a spear or sword in his hand. The banner is quite unusual, unlike that of the scales, which refer to the tradition in which the archangel would be the defender of the just during the Last Judgement, tasked with accompanying and weighing the souls of the dead before God.

Stylistically, the work is similar to a large group of icons in the Uffizi collection dating from the second quarter of the 18th century, which show marked formal simplifications and certain repetitive features, such as the abundant use of brown, used also to depict the flesh tones.

Daniela Parenti