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Image of 'Saint Michael Triumphant over the Devil' by Bartolome Bermejo, The National Gallery, London.

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Teachers' Notes

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Saint Michael Triumphant over the Devil, 1468
by Bartolome Bermejo (documented 1468-1495)
The National Gallery, London

For 2013/14, the one-day Take One Picture Continuing Professional Development courses, run by National Gallery Education, will focus on 'Saint Michael Triumphant over the Devil' by Bartolome Bermejo.

Using the focus painting as a springboard, the Take One Picture course will inspire teachers to look at ways of using paintings in the classroom to promote cross-curricular learning and suggest ways in to paintings to develop pupils' confidence and skill in responding to images.

With an extravagant swirl of his red and gold cloak, Saint Michael wields his sword; there is no hope for the devil at his feet. Taken from the Book of Revelation, this episode caught the medieval imagination, becoming a popular subject for paintings.

Saint Michael is an important figure in the three monotheistic religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Leader of the army of God against the forces of evil, his attributes include a sword and scales, and he is shown with a dragon or serpent at his feet, dressed in armour. Here, his idealised face contrasts with the portrait of the donor Antonio Juan on the left of the painting.

This panel originally hung at the altar in the church of San Miguel in Tous, a town near Valencia in Spain. Lit by candlelight, the glowing red eyes of the devil must have seemed dramatic to church-goers of the time.

Spanish artist Bermejo shows off his mastery of the oil painting technique. He contrasts the gold leaf background with the painted golden armour worn by the angel, a reflection of the holy city of Jerusalem visible in the breastplate.

A display of work produced by schools based on this painting will be shown at the National Gallery in Summer 2015, and a selection will be published on this website. To be considered for the gallery display, submit examples of how a whole class or school has used the picture in a cross-curricular way (no original work please) to the Education Department by Monday 3 November 2014.

© The National Gallery, London


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