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St Michael and the Dragon: M.2-1924

An image of Crozier head

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 32 (Rothschild)


St Michael and the Dragon


Workshop: Unknown




Copper, champlevé, engraved, chased, enamelled and gilt, the volute terminating in a serpent's head, and having a two-legged dragon inside it being attacked with a staff by St Michael

Copper, champlevé, engraved, chased, enamelled, and gilded. The shaft is in two sections divided by a knop of flattened sherical form with a central ridge. The knop is of an openwork design of eight biting beasts, their tails ending in foliated scrolls. They are engraved with a scale pattern, except for a plain band on their back which is studded with three small turquoise pastes. The lower or socket part of the shaft is decorated with blue enamel with a foliated scroll pattern reserved in the metal. To it are attached three beasts (one missing) with their heads downwards and their tails curled above touching the lower part of the knop; the back of each is set with turquoise pastes. The crook which springs from a collar of leaves, has a serrated outer edge, and is decorated with a scale pattern in blue enamel; it terminates in a serpent's head. The volute contains the winged figure of St Michael plunging a spear vertically through the back of the dragon. Its body is marked with scales except for a plain band running down either side which is studded with turquoise pastes, and its tail passes through the curl of the volute terminating in a spray of foliage fixed to the stem of the crosier.


History note: Countess Chandon de Briailles; purchased from Félix Joubert (1872–1953), Chelsea

Legal notes

Given by the Rt. Hon. F. Leverton-Harris

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1924-06-20) by Harris, Frederick Leverton


13th Century, first half
Circa 1220 CE - 1240 CE


The Book of Revelation 12:7-9 (the final Book in the Christian Bible) tells how the archangel Michael and his angels defeated the dragon, alias Satan, in battle. Satan and his angels were then cast out of heaven. During the Middle Ages, this was one of the most popular themes for the decoration of the volutes on croziers (from the Latin crocia, a crook), because it symbolised the bishop’s duty to eradicate sin from his diocese, and to protect his flock from evil. Some fifty-eight croziers ornamented with this subject have been recorded, out of which about thirty are of this type, with a volute terminating in a serpent’s head, and inside the volute, a two-legged dragon being attacked with a staff by St Michael. The croziers were made over a long period. One was found in the tomb of Pelahyo de Cebeyra, Bishop of Mondoñedo (d. 1217), now in the the Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, and another in the tomb of Bishop Jean II de la Cour d’Aubergenville (d. 1256) in Évreux Cathedral. They appear to have been passed down with other ecclesiastical objects, and some were buried in the tombs of clerics buried long after their presumed date of manufacture. An example was found in a mid-fifteenth century Bishop’s tomb in Notre Dame in Paris.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of paste (glass) ( turquoise) enamel gold
Whole On Stand Height 35.8 cm

Materials used in production


References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.2-1924
Primary reference Number: 139831
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 8 March 2023 Last processed: Tuesday 27 February 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "St Michael and the Dragon" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-15 22:09:51

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