Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Saint George and the Dragon - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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VV011. St George and the Dragon

18th century
22.1 x 17.5 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

£4,000 [Sold]Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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Saint George is dressed in armour and mounted on a charger. With a steadfast movement he thrusts his spear through the mouth of the dragon. The icon eliminates the other narrative elements of the legend (i.e. the rescuing of Elisaba, the daughter of the pagan king of Selena in Libya, from the dragon), and instead focuses on the main action of the warrior George pinning down his adversary - a symbol of the triumph of spiritual warfare, which is an Eastern monastic concept found in the Philokalia, but which can be traced to the New Testament epistles of St Paul. For example, the apostle encourages one to 'put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil' (Eph. 6:11). He then explicates this metaphor by applying spiritual concepts to the individual vestments of a warrior:

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God... (Eph. 6: 14-17)

This important theme that became central to monastic identity can be understood as the hidden meaning that underpins the iconography of St George and the Dragon.

The current version is classical in its approach, with St George looking graceful and serene. As a whole, the work recalls the well-known 16th century Cretan versions of the subject. The composition of the iconography can be compared to a 17th century St George by an artist associated with the Meteora monasteries, and which is now in the collection of Demetrios Ekonomopoulos (fig. a).

Fig. a. St George and the Dragon, Greek, 17th century, Collection of Demetrios Ekonomopoulos

Detail Images