Henry Armstead

Saint Michael and the Serpent

Saint Michael and the Serpent by Henry Armstead

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Henry Hugh Armstead was a prolific sculptor, working in wood, marble and bronze. He carried out many public commissions, including relief panels in both the Albert Memorial and Albert Hall, and also worked as a silversmith and illustrator. Armstead lectured at the Royal Academy in sculpture and casting techniques and his works were admired as refreshingly direct, with a taut sense of design and an expressive symbolism. His subject, St Michael, is the archangel-warrior, captain of the heavenly host which defeats Satan and his hordes. This muscular warrior-saint is charged with the protection of soldiers and victory over all the forces of evil. He is also said to weigh the souls of the dead as they approach Paradise. His usual attributes are a pair of scales and a sword, but neither is required in this barehanded battle. A gloriously winged St Michael, arms upraised, leans back poised to strike. He fixes his adversary with a terrible gaze and the semi-human Satan, his mouth open like that of a hissing snake, is vanquished. Satan's serpent body is hopelessly tangled with another snake, writhing around the base of St Michael's rocky crag. The inscription on the sculpture states: 'Executed in bronze by J. A. Hatfield for the Art Union of London from the original by H. H. Armstead'. (from The Guide, 2001)

Saint Michael and the Serpent
Production date
circa 1852
950 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, bequest of James Tannock Mackelvie, 1885
Accession no
Copyright Expired
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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