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Saint Michael the Archangel

Anonymous Spanish Colonial, Saint Michael the Archangel, 18th century, oil on canvas, 72 1/2 x 46 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Marguerite R. Powell.


This Mexican colonial painting dates from the 1700s when the American Southwest was part of Mexico. Images like this are still found in Southwest missions and churches today.

In the 1500s, Spanish and Flemish artists brought European painting styles and Catholic subjects to New Spain, where indigenous styles and motifs blended with the European to create Spanish colonial art.
In Catholic representations, archangels can be either male or female. Spanish and Flemish works show Michael in a plumed helmet, knee-high boots, and armor, often holding the palm of victory, as in this piece. The Latin inscription, Quis ut deus, or “Who like God,” on the scroll running up the cross identifies the figure as Michael. The moon and the sun on the pectorals of the armor occur only in Spanish Colonial images of Michael and indicate the blending of European and native traditions.

Curricular Resources

The MOA has created suggested discussion prompts and assignments for BYU CIV faculty and students to use. Each assignment is based on themes that correspond with GE learning outcomes.

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18th Century