Saint George is shown about to defeat the dragon, by the edge of the sea. The treatment of the subject is unusual: the figure of the fleeing princess is dominant, and in the centre lies a corpse which the dragon was about to eat. The figure of God the Father blessing the saint appears in the sky. The visual narrative reads back from the princess. The blue and rose colours are picked up in the draperies of the corpse and Saint George, and in the pink and blue tints of the cloudscape.

The shoreline leads the eye back into the picture space, while the V-shape formed by the leaning tree-trunk and the princess acts to anchor the composition. The high horizon and viewpoint help create tension and drama in the picture.

The small size of the canvas suggests it was painted for a domestic setting, for devotional use. It was first recorded in 1648 in the Palazzo Correr in Venice, although we do not know whether it was made for the Correr family. The 'Golden Legend' relates that Saint George was a knight from Cappadocia (in modern Turkey), who rescued a maiden from a dragon at Silene, in Libya, a deed of Christian courage, which caused many to be converted. Later he was martyred as a result of the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian.


  • Title: Saint George and the Dragon
  • Creator: Jacopo Tintoretto
  • Date Created: about 1555
  • Physical Dimensions: 158.3 x 100.5 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • School: Italian (Venetian)
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG16
  • Artist Dates: about 1518 - 1594
  • Artist Biography: Tintoretto's family name was Robusti; he took the name Tintoretto from his father's profession of dyer (tintore in Italian). Tintoretto's art is characterised by daring inventiveness in both handling and composition. Most of his paintings are large-scale narratives on canvas, animated by dramatic lighting and gestures. The 19th-century copy of 'The Miracle of Saint Mark' gives an impression of this type of work. Tintoretto was deeply influenced by Titian; he wanted to combine Titian's use of colour with the energised forms of Michelangelo. Tintoretto is usually described as a Mannerist, although his striving for effect is less in the cause of stylishness and more for the sake of narrative drama. He appears to have lived and worked for most of his life in Venice, only once being recorded on a visit outside of the city, to Mantua in 1580. After Titian's death Tintoretto, with Veronese, became one of the leading painters in the city,controlling a large workshop. He designed and worked on a number of commissions for the Doge's Palace, and on an outstanding cycle of paintings for the Scuola di San Rocco, which are still in their original location.
  • Acquisition Credit: Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831

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