This panel was originally part of a large Spanish altarpiece. The artist has placed both figures in niches, but in contrast to the frontal, ascetic image of Saint Francis, who is neatly contained within the shallow space, Saint Michael extends beyond his niche. Stabbing the dragon at his feet, the archangel gazes earthward at the apocalyptic vision—a walled, smoking city—that is reflected in his decorative shield. This latter detail hints at Juan de Flandes’s Netherlandish origin. The introduction of a gold background and the broad painting technique, however, reveal his efforts to adapt his style to Spanish taste.
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Title:Saints Michael and Francis
Artist:Juan de Flandes (Netherlandish, active by 1496–died 1519 Palencia)
Medium:Oil on wood, gold ground
Dimensions:Overall, with added strips at right and bottom, 36 7/8 x 34 1/4 in. (93.7 x 87 cm); painted surface 35 3/8 x 32 3/4 in. (89.9 x 83.2 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, Mary Wetmore Shively Bequest, in memory of her husband, Henry L. Shively, M.D., 1958
Sir Frederick Lucas Cook, Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey (by 1908–d. 1920); Sir Herbert Frederick Cook, Doughty House (1920–d. 1939); Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, Doughty House (1939–54); [Rosenberg and Stiebel, Inc. New York, 1954–1958; sold to The Met]
London. Burlington Fine Arts Club. "Exhibition," 1908, no. 1 (as early Spanish, or perhaps Portuguese, School, about 1480, lent by Sir Frederick Cook).
London. Grafton Galleries. "Exhibition of Spanish Old Masters," October 1913–January 1914, no. 16 (as early Spanish School, about 1480, lent by Sir Frederick Cook, Bart.).
Sheffield. Graves Art Gallery. "Loan Exhibition of Primitive and Early Renaissance paintings (1350–1550) from the Cook collection," October 19–November 16, 1946, no. 38 (as by Juan de Flandes, lent by Sir Francis Cook, Bart).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 86.
Emile Bertaux. "Correspondence d'Angleterre: L'exposition espagnole de Londres." Gazette des beaux-arts, 4th ser., 11 (1914), p. 252, attributes this panel to Juan de Flandes; mentions it as a recent purchase of Sir Francis Cook.
Maurice W. Brockwell inA Catalogue of the Paintings at Doughty House, Richmond, & Elsewhere in the Collection of Sir Frederick Cook, Bt., visconde de Monserrate. Ed. Sir Herbert Frederick Cook. Vol. 3, London, 1915, pp. 124, 126, no. 490, ill., attributes it to Juan de Flandes and dates it about 1480.
José Moreno Villa. "Un pintor de la Reina Católica." Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones 25 (December 1917), pp. 276, 278–80, ill., as by Juan de Flandes, from the same period as his predella panels at the chapel of the University of Salamanca.
[Friedrich] Winkler inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 19, Leipzig, 1926, p. 279, ascribes it to Juan de Flandes.
Max J. Friedländer. "Juan de Flandes." Der Cicerone 22 (1930), p. 4, ill. p. 2.
Francisco Javier Sánchez Cantón. "El retablo de la Reina Católica." Archivo español de arte y arqueología 6 (1930), p. 113, attributes it to Juan and suggests it may be part of the series of saints in Queen Isabella's oratory.
Chandler Rathfon Post. A History of Spanish Painting. Vol. 4, The Hispano-Flemish Style in Northwestern Spain. Cambridge, Mass., 1933, part 1, pp. 41, 48, attributes it to Juan de Flandes and suggests that the composition of Saint Michael was inspired by Martin Scholgauer's engraving of the subject
J. V. L. Brans. Isabel la Católica y el arte hispano-flamenco. Madrid, 1952, p. 93 n. 43.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 147, no. 746.
Colin Eisler. "Juan de Flandes's Saint Michael and Saint Francis." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 18 (December 1959), pp. 128–37, ill. (overall and details), dates it on stylistic grounds to the artist's middle period, between 1505 and 1509; rejects the hypothesis that the panel was once a part of the retable in Queen Isabella's oratory [see Ref. Sánchez Cantón 1930] and agrees with Haverkamp-Begemann [see Ref. 1959] that our picture may have been a part of the retable for the university chapel in Salamanca; notes that of the four narrow blue borders surrounding the picture those at the bottom and the right and their supporting strips of wood are recent additions, suggesting that our panel was probably sawn away from the lowermost pictorial register of a retablo, forming the left section of a series of saints standing in a gilded arcade; relates the reflections of fortifications on the shield of Saint Michael to Juan's Netherlandish heritage; observes that the depiction of Saint Michael with pale blue alb, rather than body armor, stresses the purely ceremonial nature of his combat with evil.
"Review of the Year 1958–59." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 18 (October 1959), pp. 37, 40, ill., note the curious lack of violence in the scene in which Saint Michael transfixes the writhing dragon with a thin, almost insubstantial lance; suggest that the saint's shield reflects the depths of Hell.
Jan V. L. Brans. Vlaamse schilders in dienst der koningen van Spanje. Louvain, 1959, p. 191 n. 58.
Elisa Bermejo. Juan de Flandes. Madrid, 1962, pp. 31–32, 44, no. 44, pl. 44, dates it between 1505–1509, during Juan's stay in Salamanca.
Jacqueline Folie. "Les oeuvres authentifiées des primitifs flamands." Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique Bulletin 6 (1963), p. 241 n. 2.
Ignace Vandevivere. La cathédrale de Palencia et l'église paroissiale de Cervera de Pisuerga [Les primitifs flamands I. Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 10]. Brussels, 1967, pp. 43–44, 46, 51, lists it as a shutter fragment from the altarpiece of the University of Salamanca; suggests eschatological significance for the reflection on Saint Michael's shield and compares it with reflections in several other paintings by the artist.
Ann Tzeutschler Lurie. "Birth and Naming of Saint John the Baptist, Attributed to Juan de Flandes: A Newly Discovered Panel from a Hypothetical Altarpiece." Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 63 (May 1976), pp. 123, 133 n. 5, ill. (detail of the reflection in Saint Michael's shield).
Jan Bialostocki. "Man and Mirror in Painting: Reality and Transience." Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss. Ed. Irving Lavin and John Plummer. New York, 1977, vol. 1, p. 64; vol. 2, ill. p. 24, figs. 3, 4 (overall and detail), notes that while the group of the Archangel and the dragon is detached from its original context, the Last Judgment, the reflection on the shield depicts Hell, seen through the iron bars of its famous gate.
Elisa Bermejo and Javier Portús. Los genios de la pintura española. Madrid, 1984, pp. 88–89, no. 25, ill., date it 1505–7.
Ignace Vandevivere. Juan de Flandes. Exh. cat., Memlingmuseum. Bruges, 1985, pp. 66–67, mentions it in relation to a bust-length fragmentary panel of Saint Andrew (Museo Provincial, Salamanca), which she believes is from the same altarpiece at the university chapel in Salamanca; cites archival evidence, according to which that altarpiece was completed on July 10, 1507, although the following year Juan made some improvements on it.
Ignace Vandevivere. Juan de Flandes. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. [Madrid], 1986, p. 87.
Introduction by James Snyder inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 12, 42–43, ill. (color).
Elisa Bermejo and Javier Portús. Juan de Flandes. Madrid, 1988, pp. 88–89, colorpl. 25.
Elisa Bermejo. "Novedades sobre Juan de Flandes, el Maestro de la Leyenda de la Magdalena y Jan de Beer." Archivo español de arte 61 (July–September 1988), p. 232.
Jan Bialostocki. "Man and Mirror in Painting: Reality and Transience." The Message of Images: Studies in the History of Art. Vienna, 1988, p. 97, ill. (overall and detail of shield), notes that while the group of the Archangel and the dragon is detached from its original context—the Last Judgment—the reflection on the shield depicts hell, seen through the ron bars of its famous gate
Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, p. 345, no. 302, ill.
Paul Eeckhout inLes primitifs flamands et leur temps. Ed. Brigitte de Patoul and Roger van Schoute. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994, p. 581, mentions it in relation to Memling's introduction of the mixture of sculpture, monochrome, and figures from life.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 262, ill.
Della Clason Sperling inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 26, 330–31, 397, no. 86, ill. (color), dates the picture about 1505–9; suggests that it could have belonged to a colonnade of saints in niches surrounding a narrative scene; notes that the bluish green border, which surrounds the gold is not original.
Pilar Silva Maroto. Juan de Flandes. Salamanca, 2006.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Juan de Flandes, Chameleon Painter." Invention: Northern Renaissance Studies in Honor of Molly Faries. Ed. Julien Chapuis. Turnhout, Belgium, 2008, pp. 105, 111, 113, 115, 117, 123 n. 20, colorpl. 20 (overall), figs. 2, 5 (infrared reflectogram detail), of the three paintings by Juan de Flandes in the Museum's collection considers it the example "that most clearly reflects the style and technique of his adopted Spanish home"; notes that the "deeply saturated colors, imperceptible brushwork, and multiple thin glazes" that derive from his Netherlandish training have been replaced with relatively subdued, opaque color, and a broader handling that provides his figures with greater monumentality; doubts our panel belonged to the altarpiece commissioned in 1505 for Salamanca University, but judging from its figure style, technique, and handling believes it was part of a similar altarpiece produced about 1505.
Matthias Weniger. Sittow, Morros, Juan de Flandes: Drei Maler aus dem Norden am Hof Isabellas der Katholischen. Kiel, 2011.
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