DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

The Revelation of St John: 11. St Michael Fighting the Dragon

Woodcut, 392 x 283 mm
Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe

"And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven" (Rev. 12:7).

To represent this great moment, Dürer discarded all the traditional poses that had been used time and again to represent, with a show of elegance and ease, a hero's fight against a mortal enemy. Dürer's St Michael does not strike ally pose He is in deadly earnest. He uses both hands in a mighty effort to thrust his huge spear into the dragon's throat, and this powerful gesture dominates the whole scene. Round him there are the hosts of other warring angels fighting as swordsmen and archers against the fiendish monsters, whose fantastic appearance defies description. Beneath this celestial battlefield there lies a landscape untroubled and serene, with Dürer's famous monogram.

This scene is one of the central images of the triumph of Christianity over evil, commonly found as a separate subject apart from the cycle. The dragon's seven heads symbolize the seven Deadly Sins.