Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sculpture of the Day: The Coral St. Michael, 1700-1750

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Coral’s softness allows for easy carving and it’s presumed “powers” made it a favorite medium for figurines and jewels assigned talisman properties. Here, we see a statuette in coral of St. Michael. The saint is wearing a feathered helmet and stands upon a dragon, as one does. In his right hand, he carries a sword, presumably to slay said dragon. Since coral was thought to protect against malignant magic, both the design and purpose of this figure seems to be to triumph over evil.

This, like most coral pieces, was made in Italy (Naples) during the early-to-mid Eighteenth Century when the use of coral for decorative purposes was at an all-time high.

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