|If Larry and I don't obsess about this, who will?|
We were/are wondering mostly about the object St Michael is holding in his raised right hand. Suggestions (fire, a rag, a fish) don't make sense even if the artist was trying to spoof those Auswanderers in Amerika. Was he being clever, or was he trying to show the Otrembas that he kept up on the news?
"Tu dźgnąć em, ale w Ameryce, to shoot em i odcięte włosy" ("Here, we stab em, but in America, they shoot em and cut off their hair"..)?
The illustrations below very likely made it to newspapers and books in Europe--people there had to be aware of what their departed family members were allegedly facing in the new world.
Look at the classic stance of all four main figures, including Wild Bill Cody, practically yelling, "This'll teach em!"
And if St Michael's right hand was important in the painting, how come all three victors here are holding the fresh scalps in their left hands? I doubt it's an accidental placement, but maybe it's just that you mostly wield a knife with your right hand.
Where do you hang a painting in a church? Especially if it's an embarrassing painting or poorly done, and the donor is a proud church member? A place was found for it, and then it was forgotten till well after the donors death. It's still St Michael, but gawd, it's still ugly...sigh.
BTW, great pics found online by...yup, Larry ☺