Description & Technical information

A rare 17th century polychrome ivory sculptural group made in Goa, representing the Archangel Michael slaying the dragon, an unusual iconography in the devotional Indo-Portuguese ivory production, of which no other example is known to us.
An unusually large group, most likely commissioned by a high dignitary or wealthy merchant, it depicts the Archangel standing on the creature's abdomen while striking it with a spear through the throat. Saint Michael is dressed in courtly attire, albeit military in appearance - with breast and back plates and articulated hip and arm defences highlither by polychrome and gilt decoration - suggesting Ancient Roman military uniforms such as the "cingulum militare" with its hanging straps and leg protections.
Similalry to other contemporary productions from Portuguese eastern territories it is likely that the client provided the artist with some type of model, probably a printed engraving, from which to copy the figure.
Mention should be made of the fine carving of the hair, reminiscent of the production of devotional Ceylonese devotional figures, which will become models for the Goanese production from the mid 17th century onwards.

Date:  17th century
Period:  1600-1750, 17th century
Origin:  India, Goa
Medium: Polychrome Ivory
Dimensions: 32 cm (12³/₅ inches)
Provenance: Private Collection, Madeira islands
Categories: Oriental and Asian Art