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St. George and the Dragon
St. George and the Dragon (St. Petersburg)
In 1550, Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto, one of the last great master painters of the Renaissance, created ‘St. George and the Dragon’. The oil painting is a magical story in itself, with a frightened fair maiden in the background and a heroic dragon slayer attacking the threatening beast that has wreaked havoc on the nearby village.
The painting is an exquisite symphony of color, light, and symbolic storytelling that reflects the exceptional creative skill of Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto. The fair maiden is supposedly a princess who was the next chosen victim to be sacrificed to the dragon. She dons a royal red dress with a flowing cape; her crown rests on the ground near her feet. She appears to be in prayer for St. George, who happened to discover the princess in distress. In the painting’s background, four villagers are scattering about to find a safe place to hide, probably within the confines of the village walls.
The main focus of the painting is the hero St. George, riding a majestic white horse, slaughtering the dragon. Though his facial expression is directed downward, towards the beast, Tintoretto managed to depict the subject’s posture and body position as to reflect his determination and anger. This artist’s ability to create near perfect lighting and shading on the multi-faceted color scheme of ‘St. George and the Dragon’ makes him a rare talent amongst the great painters of the Renaissance era.
Analysis / Review
“Whether classic fables or Biblical episodes were the subject of his art, Tintoretto coloured it with his feeling for the human life at the heart of the story. His sense of power did not express itself in colossal nudes so much as in the immense energy, in the glowing health of the figures he painted, and more still in his effects of light, which he rendered as if he had it in his hands to brighten or darken the heavens at will and subdue them to his own moods.” - Bernard Berenson “Italian Painters of the Renaissance”
‘St. George and the Dragon’ by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto is currently located at the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia