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Saint George and the Dragon

Raphaelc. 1506

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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.

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Details

  • Title: Saint George and the Dragon
  • Date Created: c. 1506
  • Physical Dimensions: w215 x h285 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Andrew W. Mellon Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on panel
  • artist: Raphael
  • Theme: religious, saints
  • School: Marchigian
  • Provenance: William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke [1580 1630], Wilton House, Wiltshire, by 1627; possibly his brother, Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke [1584 1649/1650], Wilton House; given either by the 3rd Earl or the 4th Earl between 1628 and 1639 to Charles I, King of England [d. 1649];[1] (Charles I [Commonwealth] sale, Somerset House, London, 19 December 1651); purchased by Edward Bass.[2] Charles d'Escoubleau, Marquis de Sourdis [d. 1666], possibly acquired from Bass.[3] Laurent Le Tessier de Montarsy, by 1729; Pierre Crozat [1665 1740], Paris, by 1729;[4] by inheritance to his nephews, first to Louis François Crozat, marquis du Châtel [1691 1750], Paris, and then [on Louis François' death without a male heir] to Louis Antoine Crozat, baron de Thiers [1700 1770];[5] the latter's heirs; purchased 1772, through Denis Diderot [1713 1784] as an intermediary, by Catherine II, empress of Russia [1729 1796], for the Imperial Hermitage Gallery, Saint Petersburg;[6] purchased March 1931 through (Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London; and M. Knoedler & Co., New York) by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 30 March 1932 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh;[7] gift 1937 to NGA. [1] Recorded in Van der Doort, A Catalogue and Description of King Charles the First's Capital Collection of Pictures, Limnings, Statues, etc, from an Ashmolean manuscript (c. 1639), prepared for press by G. Vertue (printed by W. Bathoe), 1757: 4. [2] According to O. Miller, "The Inventories and Valuations of the King's Goods, 1649 1651," Journal of the Walpole Society 43 (1970 1972): 258. [3] According to N. Le Clerc and J. Colomsat, Cabinet des Singularitez D'Architecture, Peinture, Sculpture, et Graveure, Paris, 1699: 66 67. [4] Cited by F. R. Shapley, Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, 2 vols., Washington, 1979: 1:394, as documented in the Recueil des Stampes...dans le Cabinet du Roi..., Volume I, 1763: 13. [5] Recorded in Catalogue des Tableaux du Cabinet de M. Crozat, Baron de Thiers, Paris, 1755: 34. [6] See A. Somof, Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux, Saint Petersburg, 1899: 112 113. [7] Mellon/Mellon trust purchase date and/or date deeded to to Mellon Trust is according to Mellon collection files in NGA curatorial records and David Finley's notebook (donated to the National Gallery of Art in 1977, now in Gallery Archives).

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