Thursday, April 23, 2009

St. George and the Dragon.

Today is the feast day of St. George (ca 275/281- 303).
St. George was a soldier in the army of the Emperor Diocletian. He was martyred on April 23, 303. The earliest stories of St. George and the dragon were in the 11th century, brought back from the Crusades.There have been so many representations of St. George fighting the dragon that I thought I would present several of them for comparasion.
This one on the left is an Orthodox Bulgarian icon from Alciato's Book of Emblems first published in 1531.

The one below was painted by Rogier van der Weyden (born ca.1400 in Tournai, Belgium). At the time he died in 1464 he was considered the greatest painter in Europe. His St. George was painted between 1432-1435. The National Gallery's website has a whole kids site relating to this painting

This painting below is by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Rubens was a Flemish Baroque painter who was greatly influenced by Italian Renaissance painting. Notice the difference between this depiction of St. George and the other 2. Rubens is known for his movement, color, drama and this painting has all three. This St. George comes sweeping in to rescue the maiden, full of bravado. He WILL slew the dragon.
The next painting is by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)The pre-Raphaelite. This painting is one of seven St. George paintings commissioned by the artist Myles Foster for his home.
By the way, the Pre-Raphaelite movement was founded in 1849 by a group of English painters, authors, and poets including Dante Gabriel Rossitti, his brother William, Frederic George Stephens, and William Holman Hunt. Their intention was to take art back to he time of before Raphael and Michelangelo, before what they considered to be mechanistic approach in art. Romanticism was their prevailing theme and many of their works focused on myths and legends. The King Arthur legend is often found among their works. They are considered by some to be the first avant- garde movement.

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