Church of San Niccolò al Carmine

St. Michael Banishing the Fallen Angels

Domenico Beccafumi (1484? - 1551) Not long before 1535

This painting, currently displayed above the first altar on the right, was originally intended for the altar dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. Saint Michael is the patron saint of the Universal Church; worshiped as the defender of the Christian people, he is represented as a warrior who defends the Church against its enemies. In the Book of Revelation, from which this scene is taken from, Michael is the prince of the angels who were faithful to God, who fought and drove out the dragon (Satan) and the fallen angels (12, 7-9): “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. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” This is the second painting that the artist created for the friars, as the first, presently displayed in Siena’s Pinacoteca Nazionale, was refused by the Carmelites who regarded the emphasis placed by the painter on the most crude and painful aspects of the event as excessive. In this second, “revised” version, the representation of bliss finds room together with that of pain, and the artist draws attention, through . . .

  • Beccafumi D., Saint Michael the Archangel banishing the Fallen Angels, just before 1535.