THE Raphael

St. Michael by Raphael (my pencil drawing)

St. Michael by Raphael. According to the legend in White Collar it was a favorite of Kate’s. Neal stole it to get her attention when she was hiding from him before his arrest. And it became a symbol for all the crimes, Neal has not confessed to yet and that could not be proven to have been committed by him.

In reality St. Michael, painted by Raphael in 1504 or 1505, is housed in the Louvre. Here are some omg facts about this Raphael painting that really make it THE Raphael, famous now through three seasons:

Raphael painted the picture on the back of a draughtboard. I am not sure what game exactly. But whether it is chess or backgammon (or any other strategy game known in 1500 and representing the battle of two opposing armies) Neal plays it and has some memory connected to it.

Michael derives from the Hebrew question ‘Mi ke el?’ meaning ‘Who is like God?’ As the answer would be ‘No one.’ Archangel Michael is seen as a symbol of humility. Well, let’s say Neal isn’t. Michael is also known as intermediary angel, healer, protector and leader of the army of God against the forces of evil. I have a thought for this, but it is still cookie dough and still needs to bake before it is ready for the world.

The background of the painting suggests that Raphael studies illustrations to Dante’s Inferno before outlining the image. The 8th Circle of Hell punishes those whose sins involved conscious fraud or treachery. Thieves are pursued and bitten by snakes those poison destroys the humanity or inner core of the bitten. Hypocrites have to walk around in gilded lead coats that weigh down on them and make progress impossible. Other than that Dante is quoted a couple of times (e.g. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.) it’s amazing that a guy convicted of fraud and accused of theft is fascinated by a picture depicting the punishment of thieves.

That said, my two pence is that this picture roll we saw Neal carrying around in the season final will contain THE Raphael. And while he is far from reformed (Has he hit rock bottom yet? No.), he isn’t ready anymore to loose everything and everyone again. Hence, I guess he will try to give it back – into the hands of his friends – as a sign of his trust. Well, not more than two pence.


(OK, I should have rewatched Forging Bonds first, as I planned to do. The Raphael the talk about is St. George and the Dragon housed by the Washington Gallery. Besides that it is on American soil, has ties to the Hermitage and Catherine the Great as does the Amber Room, it is not nearly as fitting.  Anyway, I stick to the statement that the painting will be in the picture roll.)

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