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Currently shown
Briton Riviere

Saint George and the Dragon

Artist

Briton Riviere
London 1840 – London 1920

Title

Saint George and the Dragon

Date

1908-1909

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

145.1 x 119.4 cm

Credits

Gift of Briton Riviere, R.A., inv. 1914.152

Collection

Western Art

The theme of the fallen hero in full armour is in keeping with the Victorian taste for medieval chivalry. Although dating from before World War I, Saint George and the Dragon took on a specific symbolism when it was reproduced in King Albert’s Book, published in 1914 as a tribute to the war effort of the king and people of Belgium. The text by British psychiatrist Sir James Crichton-Browne that accompanies Riviere’s painting in the book reinterprets the subject of Saint George (England’s patron saint) and the Dragon: "a stripling Knight in the shining armour of Truth and with the flashing blade of Right, withstood the first fierce onslaught of the monstrous and fire-belching Dragon that has grown up in Central Europe and uncoiled itself to devour the world. Scorched, wounded, trodden on, the stripling has never blanched nor quailed but has given pause to the Dragon and time to strong men to awake from slumber in which, but for him, they might have been smitten down".

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