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This late painting shows the Archangel Michael appearing on the Day of Judgement with his flaming sword. In the foreground are Old Testament scenes of murder and betrayal: Adam and Eve weeps over the body of Abel (left), and Judith stands over the headless body of Holofernes (right).

 

Turner's pessimistic picture seems to show death is everywhere in this fallen world.
It may also reflect his concern that his
own life and art would be judged. He got his revenge on his critics by showing the painting with lines describing 'the feast
of vultures when the day is done.'

September 2004