Saint George and the Dragon, Raphael

Saint George and the Dragon, Raphael
Saint George and the Dragon, Raphael

One of the most popular and at the same time most traditional themes in literature of all time, that of the lady who is rescued from the fury of the dragon by a noble knight, has its equivalent or representation also in the arts plastic, especially in painting. However, the painters used the ecclesiastical version of this theme, starring Saint George who ends the life of the dragon, thus rescuing the lady in distress.


During the Middle Ages the lives of the saints was an inexhaustible source for artists and during the Renaissance period many of the humanist painters followed in this same footstep, although endowing the theme of a more realistic and human appearance. The image of Saint George has a long tradition not only in the Christian religion but also in Islam or in places as far away as Japan; however, it is also true that on many occasions the legends about his figure have little to do with reality and are precisely the result of tradition.

On this occasion we analyze two works by Rafael de Urbino, both painted on the legend of Saint George and the dragon during a very short period of time The first of them is the piece that is exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris, it is an oil on canvas in a vertical format that was made at the beginning of the 16th century, between 1503 and 1505. On the canvas we find the saint who appears on the back of arearing white horse, appears with sword in hand to deal a deathblow to the dragon. This has been represented in a somewhat subjective way, rather as a kind of dog with wings and a long neck to which the saint has already stuck a spear, as evidenced by the remains of the object. In the background, accentuating the movement of the work, a lady appears who flees terrified from the scene.


The other canvas currently in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. It is also presented in vertical format, however it was painted a year later in 1506 and on this occasion, the artist has decided to represent the moment in which Saint George spears the dragon who is at the entrance to his cave. Perhaps in this piece the influence that The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci or the paintings by Bosch had for Raphael is much more remarkable. On her part, the lady also appears on this canvas but this time instead of running away, she stays on her knees begging for the saint's life

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