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Friday 15 March 2019

(Publisher) Nicolas van Aelst’s engraving, “The Archangel Michael Defeating the Devil”, 1599

(Publisher) Nicolas van Aelst (c1526–1613)

Regarding the identity of the engraver of this remarkably strong image, Van Aelst is one of the leading publishers of prints (fl.1585 in Rome)—especially those by Tempesta, Brambilla and Alberti—and, importantly, he is also known to have been an engraver (see Michael Bury’s [2001] “The Print in Italy 550–1620”, p. 221). Accordingly, there is a chance that this plate is engraved by the hand of Van Aelst. Be mindful, however, that Van Aelst was not averse to omitting the engravers’ names from the prints that he published and that finding a print by Van Aelst to make a stylistic comparison is not easy.

“The Archangel Michael Defeating the Devil”, 1599 (dated on plate).
Engraving on laid paper backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 56 x 41 cm; (plate) 49.5 x 35.5 cm
Lettered in Latin below the image borderline: (left) “Signifer excelso Satanam .../ ... ad ima premit.”; (centre with text separated by a coat of arms) “…/ …/ Nicolaus Van aelst Belga Dedic. // Principi Ac/ .../ ...1599"; (right) “Suporiorune …/ Pugna grauis: Dux iste potens: Sed. Fortiori ille/ Vincit, et. altitonans hostis ab axe ruit. &c” (Note: I have difficulty in reading some of the text consequently I have left ellipses where there is uncertainty and there may be errors with the text that I have recorded.)

Condition: richly inked lifetime impression (based on the crisp lines showing no sign of wear to the printing plate and still retaining the lettering guide lines). The image area is in very good condition but there is separation tears along the plate mark resulting in the need for a support sheet.

I am selling this large engraving of the utmost rarity—so rare that I have been unsuccessful in finding another copy of it in any of the major museum repositories—for the total cost of AU$560 (currently US$396.80/EUR350.25/GBP29908 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this graphically powerful image of the archangel Michael as the iconic warrior defeating Satan and in the far less common role as a participant on judgement day weighing the souls of the recently departed, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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