(b. ca. 1516, Antwerpen, d. 1570, Antwerpen)

The Fall of the Rebellious Angels

Oil on panel, 308 x 220 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp

The Fall of the Rebellious Angels was the middle panel of a triptych that decorated the altar at the Fencers' guild in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Antwerp (the Church of Our Lady). In the iconoclastic fury of 1566 the triptych was severely damaged and lost both of its side panels.

Even at the time of its creation this altarpiece was already an object worth seeing. The way it was painted made Isaac Bullart, in 1682, think of a devilish brush rather than of a human hand. 19th-century writers who preferred the old tradition of Flemish painting were less enthusiastic about this work by Floris, whose inspiration lay in Italy.

People eagerly sought exact copies of figures from Michelangelo's 'The Last Judgment' in this painting. It is clear that the fresco in the Sistine Chapel inspired Frans Floris but it did not tempt him to copy.

The scene represented in the painting stems from Chapter 12 of the 'Revelation of Saint John, the Apocalypse'. Michael, the patron saint of the Fencers' guild, is fighting the dragon with seven heads, and the devils. The archangel and his helpers are attacking using the fencers' weapons, while the devils are defending themselves with knives, axes, pikes, bows and arrows and torches.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.