The central subject is the Archangel Michael, prince of the angels, who cast Satan out of heaven, according to the Book of Revelation. He is depicted here wearing tournament armor, but is distinguished as an angel by his multicolored wings.
The work was probably made between 1460 and 1490—a period in Spanish art when there was a great deal of interest in surface decoration. The artist has simulated the surfaces and visual characteristics of armor by using raised relief and silver and gold leaf.
The painting's gold and red backdrop is a cloth of honor. The artist has reproduced the brocaded gold-work of an imported luxury textile from the east, or maybe even North Africa. Spain had been interacting with different cultures to the south via trade, with many imported luxury objects being brought into Spain during this period.
The floor is painted with designs and decorations resembling an inlaid stone floor of the kind that might have been found inside the church where this painting was originally presented.
The Archangel Michael is standing on a demon, which is a composite image of different faces and creatures combined to create a single figure. The demon is reaching up to grasp the spear that is impaling his jaw.
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Saint Michael, 1450–1500 Master of Belmonte (Spanish) Tempera and oil on wood The Cloisters Collection, 1955 (55.120.2)