St. Michael and the Dragon, from a Latin edition (1511) by Albrecht Durer

St. Michael and the Dragon, from a Latin edition - Albrecht Durer - 1511

Artwork Information

TitleSt. Michael and the Dragon, from a Latin edition
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationBibliotheque nationale de France (BnF), Paris, France

About St. Michael and the Dragon, from a Latin edition

“St. Michael and the Dragon” is a woodcut created by Albrecht Dürer in 1511. As a notable work from the Northern Renaissance, this religious painting embodies the era’s attention to detail and spiritual themes. The piece is a part of the collection at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris, France.

The artwork depicts the biblical scene of Saint Michael the Archangel engaged in battle with a fearsome dragon, symbolizing the struggle between good and evil. Saint Michael is shown in the center of the composition, his figure dynamically positioned as he thrusts a lance into the dragon’s open mouth. His wings are spread wide, adding to the sense of motion and power in the confrontation.

The dragon is a grotesque creature with multiple heads, each depicting a different terrifying face, suggestive of the many facets of evil. The creature’s body coils and writhes, and its wings are also outstretched, mirroring the archangel’s but with a more chaotic and menacing energy.

The upper part of the woodcut shows a detailed, tumultuous sky, emphasizing the supernatural and celestial nature of the conflict. On the ground below, a calm and idyllic landscape contrasts sharply with the celestial battle taking place above it. Small figures of humans can be seen in this pastoral setting, perhaps oblivious to the cosmic battle occurring above them.

Dürer’s mastery of the woodcut medium is evident in the intricate lines and textures that define both figures and landscape, giving a sense of depth and complexity to the scene. The monogram “AD,” Albrecht Dürer’s signature, can be found near the bottom center of the artwork, confirming his authorship of this impressive piece.

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