Raphael was born in Urbino, a central Italian duchy noted for its elegant gentility and Renaissance scholarship. He moved to Florence toward the end of 1504.
Saint George and the Dragon, one of two versions of the theme by the artist, belonged to a series of miniature panels that Raphael painted in Florence for the celebrated court of Urbino. A Roman soldier of Christian faith, Saint George saved the daughter of a pagan king by subduing a dragon with his lance; the princess then led the dragon to the city, where the saint killed it with his sword, prompting the king and his subjects to convert to Christianity.
One unusual feature of the painting is the saint's blue garter on his armor–covered leg. Its inscription, HONI, begins the phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense (Disgraced be he who thinks ill of it), the motto of the chivalric Order of the Garter, of which George is the patron saint. Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro of Urbino was made a knight of the prestigious order in 1504 by King Henry VII of England. Scholarship has shown that the panel was made for the king's emissary, Gilbert Talbot, and not as a gift directly for the king, as was previously thought.