Saint George and the Dragon, c. 1432/1435

Artists / Makers

Rogier van der Weyden (artist) Netherlandish, 1399/1400 – 1464

A man wearing armor and riding a rearing gray horse pins a winged, reptile-like dragon to the ground using a long lance at the center of this vertical painting. A woman kneels beyond the man and dragon to our left, and mountains and a city lining a body of water stretch into the deep distance.

The man’s gleaming silver armor covers his whole body except his pale peach face, his brown hair, and his feet. Two long strips of burgundy-red material unfurl from under his arms to flutter behind him like banners. A white shield with a red cross is propped on his upper left arm, and he holds the lance with his right hand high over his head.

The lance spans nearly the whole composition, creating a diagonal from near the top edge to the lower right corner, where it almost pierces the back of the dragon’s neck. The olive-green dragon has a royal-blue stripe down its back and tail, and it opens its beak-like mouth and sticks out its long, forked tongue. Skulls and bones are scattered on the ground around the dragon.

The woman to our left has pale pink skin and her blond hair is bound up and covered with a translucent veil. Her long, high-necked dress is patterned with blue and gold, and red fringe or fabric drapes down from the underside of the sleeves.

Buildings cluster at the top of a projecting ridge above the woman in the background, and more buildings line the edge of a body of water below. Ships with unfurled sails pass by blue mountains in the distance. The horizon line comes three-quarters of the way up the panel and the blue sky is dotted with clouds.

Credits: The National Gallery of Art

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