CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


PORRAS, Stephanie
The Re-imagination and Migration of St Michael the Archangel

Session 3 Imagination and Projection

Assistant Professor of Art History at Tulane University


St Michael the Archangel, the militant saint who cast the rebellious angels down from Heaven, was a patron saint of the Counter-Reformation. Around the turn of the seventeenth century, an image of this saint by the Flemish, Lutheran artist Maerten de Vos would become globally famous: copied in print, paint and ivory, from Spain to Southeast Asia and Latin America. This paper argues that in order to understand this image’s global success, one must acknowledge the particular circumstances of this design’s origin, as a projection of Catholic power imagined from within a rebellious Protestant artistic center.

De Vos and his collaborators intended this image to migrate across linguistic, cultural and religious boundaries. Projecting a local experience of Habsburg colonial rule and religious dissent, the printmakers anticipated the image’s momentum into new socio-cultural contexts. De Vos’s image quickly became a globally recognized model, to be deployed as a tool of conversion and colonial power. But De Vos’s reimagined archangel would also be reclaimed and reoriented within these new local contexts, as each successive interpreter made the design their own.

PORRAS, Stephanie 

Stephanie Porras is Assistant Professor of Art History at Tulane University, New Orleans. Her first book, Pieter Bruegel’s Historical Imagination (Pennsylvania State University, 2016), proposes a new understanding of Bruegel as an artist deeply concerned with local history as imagined in the sixteenth-century Low Countries. In addition to articles on Bruegel and Netherlandish prints, she has also worked on the early drawings of Albrecht Dürer, most recently co-editing and contributing an essay to an exhibition catalogue The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure (Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 2013). Her current project is a micro history of an understudied yet ubiquitous early modern artist; Maarten de Vos: a Renaissance life in-between considers the impact of travel, the wars of religion and the dawn of globalization on artistic identity. Her resesarch on de Vos has been supported by the Renaissance Society of America, Tulane University’s Provost’s Office and School of Liberal Arts, the New York Public Library and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she is currently a Mellon Decade Fellow.