ABADIA, Juan de la
(active 1470-1490 in Huesca)

The Archangel Michael

c. 1490
Wood, 127 x 78 cm
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

The archangel Michael was, like St. George the dragon-killer, one of the typically warlike saints so greatly approved in the age of chivalry. The Bible tells us that he fought with Satan for the body of Moses and we can read in the Apocalypse how he defeated the dragon with seven heads and ten horns. St. Michael was therefore looked upon as one of the principal patrons of the Church who, having overcome Satan, could protect all innocent souls from the Devil.

This painting illustrates the somewhat provincial style of Juan de la Abadia of Huesca. The heritage of the Trecento can be seen in the delicate, girlish countenance of the saint and the brilliant tints of the wings, but blended with it is the elegance associated with the International Gothic style. The figures are wooden and lifeless and the artist's limited knowledge of anatomy may be seen in his representation of the soul; but the carefully arranged pattern of the floor creates the illusion of space, indicating that the artist was aware of the later developments of Gothic art and was to some extent influenced by early Renaissance art.