Antique oil painting on canvas with carved wood frame
The history of the Peruvian painting has its origins at the colonial era. The Spanish painters who arrived at the Viceroyalty of Peru taught their techniques to the local artists, and they began to shape on linen cloths their own representations, creating a new iconographic interpretation of the Peruvian reality. The Catholic divinities were adapted to indigenous sensitivity and given a singular representation that had its maxim expression in the "School of Cusco Painting" ( La Escuela Cusqueña), during centuries XVII and XVIII.
This painting has been done in the style of the works of La Escuela Cusqueña, the history of which is traced to the 17th century. Originally influenced by Spanish and Italian artists, this school was commissioned to paint sacred art in churches and monasteries throughout the Peruvian city of Cusco after the area was devastated by an earthquake in 1650. The collected efforts of numerous artists gradually evolved into a unique yet harmonious and consistent style, devoid of individualism. These paintings are usually not signed, but represent traditional depictions of the religious subjects most important to the local indigenous and Hispanic populations.
This antique painting is at least 50 years old. It is signed and dated "84" in the lower right corner, so this may be the date of painting or the date of an original from which this was copied. It is oil on canvas and measures 16 inches wide and 23.5 inches tall. The handsome solid wood hand-carved frame is almost 3 inches wide, so the total overall dimensions are 21 x 28.5 inches. The painting is in good condition, with some soil front and back, as can be seen in the detailed photos below. Please email if you have any questions. Labels on the back verify that export was approved by the Peruvian Instituto Nacional de Cultura.
Both the Old and the New Testament refer to the legions of angels, which do Gods bidding. One of the best known and loved of the angels is Michael. He is described in Revelation 12:7-9 as leading his soldier angels in battle against the dragon, which represents evil. In Christian tradition he is the general of the heavenly host and defender of the church militant. He is the angel of Divine wrath and judgement and clears the way for the return of Christ at the end of the world. As the warrior angel Michael fights to ward off temptation and to defend souls against attacks from Satan, especially at the moment of death.
The iconography of paintings of the Archangel Michael is fairly consistent. St. Michael is usually shown dressed as a soldier in the uniform of a Roman centurion. He carries a sword or lance in one hand and sometimes the scales of judgement in the other. He can be shown with or without the dragon or some other kind of monster being trampled under foot. Mexican settlers brought devotion to Saint Michael to New Mexico in the 16th century. A chapel built by Mexican Tlaxcalan Indians in Santa Fe during the mid-seventeenth century was dedicated to St. Michael and still stands not far from the ancient plaza. New Mexican artists called santeros painted his image on pine panels with natural pigments and sealed with pinon sap varnish. These artists sometimes replaced the traditional dragon of European origin with the deadly rattlesnake of the southwest.
Saint Michael is appealed to for protection against temptation and evil, especially at the moment before death. He is the patron of soldiers and the guardian of small children. His feast days are May 28th and September 29th.