Temple Gallery

Established 1959


BZ18. Saint George and the Dragon
Greek, ca. 1800
Tempera on gesso on wood.
Panel: 32.5 x 23 x 2.6 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial
Condition: good condition, minimal retouching to scratches
Inscription: O Αγίος Μεγαλομάρτ[υρ]ος Γεωργί[ου] - Saint George the Great Martyr
Provenance: German art market, Yedikule Monastery, Istanbul (see label Fig. 1)
Feast Day: 23rd of April (Old Calendar 6th May)
£2,500 [Sold]Click here to convert price to USD or EUR



This attractively painted popular icon combines several different legends associated with Saint George: the slaying of the Dragon, the rescue of the princess, the rescue of the kidnapped boy and his angelic greeting (see notes for No. 19). In the case of the young boy we have the version that his captor was a Turkish pasha who made him wait at table. We see him in Turkish clothes with a Turkish looking coffee pot apparently still in the act of serving. We normally see an angel offering George a crown and the flowers and palm that we see here are highly unusual. They appear to be a pomegranate branch, ancient symbol of fertility, and a palm branch, the symbol of greeting. These are clear allusions to classical antiquity and may reflect the surge of Greek nationalism corresponding to the period of our icon. (Greece achieved independence from The Ottoman Empire in 1822.)

A label on the back written in a mid-twentieth century French hand refers to ‘Monastère de Yedikule, (7 tours)’. Yedicule is an important part of Istanbul’s history dating from the Emperor Theodosius in the fifth century and where a huge fortress was built by Mehmet II in 1458, five years after he has taken the city. Today it is a major historical site visited by tourists but the monastery is apparently forgotten. Also on the back is a paper stuck to the panel and rubber stamped in illegible Greek (1950s?), presumably a permit to export.

Detail: Back of Panel