Bronze sculpture of Saint George and the Dragon

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First half 15th century
Gilded bronze
27 cm
12.5 cm
9.5 cm

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A French gothic gilt bronze group op St. George and the Dragon. The youthful saint has thick wavy hair and is wearing armor, stepping from a tree stump. With his left foot on the shoulders of the monster, he thrusts his lance downwards towards the beast. The object has a wooden base.

Central in the legend of Saint George and the Dragon is the moment that Saint George, who died in 313, slayed the dragon that demanded human sacrifices. Because the original story was lost, elements from ancient myths were integrated in it: the story has similarities with the tales of Perseus. In the Legenda Aurea, from the 13th century, the story is told for the first time, it is then situated in Silena in Libia but other sources mention Beirut. The city was controlled by a dragon who was given two sheep to be soothed every day. When the last sheep had been offered, the dragon demanded human sacrifices and fate picked the king's daughter. Dressed in her bridal gown she faced death. However, George attacked the dragon with his spear and wounded the beast. He promised the king and the people that he would kill the animal on the condition that everybody would be baptised by him. When the king and the people agreed to this he killed the dragon and 15.000 people were baptised. Traditionally, George is portrayed with the dragon he had reputedly killed. The imagination of George and the dragon was popular in the Middle Ages and in the succeeding ages, often because the dragon was seen as a symbol of paganism. The story of Saint George and the Dragon has been depicted in many sculptures, paintings and other artforms.


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