Head of Saint Michael
41 cm x 32.1 cm (16 1/8 in. x 12 5/8 in.)
(Verona, Italy, 1528 - 1588, Venice, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
This painting is a fragment of a fifteen-foot-tall altarpiece painted for the church of San Francesco at Lendinara, a small town near Padua, Italy. Commissioned by the cousins Antonio and Girolamo Petrobelli, the painting was one of the major projects of Paolo Veronese’s career. By 1785 the church was abandoned and demolished, and the altarpiece was cut and sold in pieces in 1788 to maximize profits. Four fragments have been identified to date.
The original canvas had the body of Jesus supported by angels in the upper register and the two donors with their respective patrons—Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Jerome—in the lower register. Saint Michael stood in the center, holding in his right hand a spear pointed at the demon and in his left scales to weigh souls on Judgment Day. The upright form of the archangel figure connects the upper and lower sections of the composition, while also reflecting the intermediary role of the much-venerated saint.