Notice the Archangel Michael’s sweeping golden robe, sharply twisted curls of hair, and the powerful contrast between his calm face and the grimacing Devil. It’s rare for a sculpture of this date to retain its original paint and gilding. This statue stood in the chapel of Harburg Castle for over 500 years. For the prominent knightly family who owned the castle, Saint Michael served as a protector and example of ideal knighthood.
Artist attributed to The Master of the Altarpiece of the Order of the Swan Knights, German, 15th century
  • Saint Michael Vanquishing the Devil
Date ca. 1480
Medium limewood with well preserved polychromy
Dimensions Overall: 64 15/16 × 26 × 15 3/4 inches (165 × 66 × 40 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, with funds from the Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Accession Number 2020.1
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W240, Level 2 (see map)
about 1480-1731, Counts zu Oettingen-Oettingen, Chapel of St. Michael, Burg Harburg (Harbug, Bavaria, Germany);
1731, by descent to the Counts (later Princes) zu Oettingen-Wallerstein, Chapel of St. Michael, Burg Harburg (Harbug, Bavaria, Germany);
1991, by descent to Moritz, 8th Prince zu Oettingen-Wallerstein [b. 1946], Chapel of St. Michael, Burg Harburg (Harbug, Bavaria, Germany);
about 2000-2020, sold to (Alexander Rudigier Ltd., London, England);
2020-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)