The Archangel Michael's Battle with the Devil
Christoph Daniel Schenck


Ivory, walnut
Height 20.8 cm



This relief shows the victorious struggle of the Archangel Michael with the devil, as described in the Book of Revelation: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”

The archangel’s victory over the devil is won: Michael is shown in violent motion, wings spread and flaming sword held aloft, standing over the devil. The vanquished devil, his face distorted with fear and horror, is tumbling head-first into the flames. His face is disfigured by long ears, horns, and wide open, wildly rolling eyes, and by his tongue, which hangs out of his mouth. The angel moves lightly and effortlessly; with his wings and armour he looks like a hero of antiquity. The devil, by contrast, is naked and hunches over in the endeavour to shield his vulnerable nudity with his arms. Claw-like hands and bat-like wings emphasise the ugliness of his body. The wooden frame, which is original, bears arvings—heads of putti among clouds, and monsters descending into flames—which replicate the event shown in the central panel.

Christoph Daniel Schenk took over the direction of his father’s workshop in Constance in about 1660. Through his work for the interiors of major churches and monasteries he exerted a strong stylistic influence in the region around Lake Constance. Small-scale sculpture formed an increasing proportion of his work from around 1675 onwards, and is nowadays considered to constitute his main artistic achievement.