Painted in 1562, Bruegel's depiction of this subject is taken from a passage from the Book of Revelation (12, 2-9) and reveals the artist's profound debt to Hieronymous Bosch, especially in the grotesque figures of the fallen angels, shown as half-human, half-animal monsters. Together with Dulle Griet and The Triumph of Death, which have similar dimensions, it was probably painted for the same collector and destined to become part of a series.
The composition with a central figure placed among many smaller figures was favoured by Bruegel at this time, not only in other paintings such as Dulle Griet, but also in the series of engravings of the Vices and the Virtues which he had just completed for the Antwerp publisher Hieronymous Cock. The archangelMichael and his angels are shown by Bruegel in the act of driving the rebel angels from Heaven. Pride was the sin which caused the fall of Lucifer and his companions, and the conflict of good and evil, vice and virtue, is a theme which recurs constantly in Bruegel's work.