The image of Saint Michael killing a dragon comes from the description of an epic battle between good and evil found in Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible: “And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. . . . The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan.” The inscription Quis ut deus (Who is like God') on the shield is a Latin translation of the saint’s Hebrew name, Mîkhā'ēl. Giuseppe Sanmartino was known for dramatic and technically complex depictions of religious subjects. For Saint Michael and Saint Raphael, he collaborated with silversmiths, who spent long hours polishing, punching, and chasing the expanses of metal. Chasing involves the use of hammers and punches to create sharper surface details and textures, as in the feathers of Saint Michael’s wings.
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