Advent Calendar 2015 · Art History

December 3rd: the Archangel Michael by Guido Reni

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Archangel Michael (c. 1636) by Guido Reni. Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.
What would Christmas be without some angels? This striking painting of the Michael the Archangel is by Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni (1575-1642). In characteristic Baroque fashion, the painting is full of drama. The large figure of Michael is wearing Roman battle attire prepares to impale a tough-looking man representing Satan. Behind him is a shadowy setting with rocks in the foreground, a dragon lurking behind the Archangel, and hint of red that suggests the fires of Hell. This is certainly not the peaceful, white-garbed angel on a Hallmark card, but this classically-proportioned angel with large, grey wings and a voluminous pink cloak  this would certainly look impressive on top of a Christmas tree.

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