top of page

Paolo Uccello - St. George

by Alexandra Tuschka

A woman is bound by a chain to a green dragon, a knight rushes from the right and stabs a lance into its eye. The dragon bleeds.

We see the dragon fight of St. George, a story of the "legenda aurea", reminiscent of a knight's tale. The splendidly dressed woman on the left is the king's daughter, who was demanded as a sacrifice by the dragon to appease him. George rode against the dragon in the name of the cross and was able to wound him. He took the queen's belt as a collar for the monster and led it out of the city. He promised to kill the dragon if the people would be baptized Christian. They complied with his wish and George also kept his word and killed the monster. Although he was promised the hand of the king's daughter and wealth in return, George then continued his journey.

The composition in Uccello's painting is clearly structured with narrative elements. Distracting, decorative pictorial elements have been dispensed with. Thus, he shows the dragon's cave in the background on the left. A swirl-like cloud formation supports the onslaught of the knight. On the left of the picture the king's daughter stands upright and expectantly. Present as an obstacle the dragon was positioned between both persons. George's long lance runs diagonally through the picture space.

The turning point of the story is here reduced to its most important elements. The king's daughter still points desperately at the dragon, while on the left attack and victory coincide in an instant.

Paolo Uccello - St. George

Oil on canvas, ca. 1470, 55.5 x 74 cm, National Gallery in London


bottom of page