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Gustave Moreau, Saint George and the Dragon

Key facts
Full title Saint George and the Dragon
Artist Gustave Moreau
Artist dates 1826 - 1898
Date made 1889-90
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 141 × 96.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1976
Inventory number NG6436
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint George and the Dragon
Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau was a leading figure in the French Symbolist movement. He completed this painting in 1889, although he began working on it many years earlier.

The story of Saint George and the dragon had long been popular with artists, and the painting shows Moreau’s awareness of earlier images of the saint and his eclectic range of sources. Moreau not only looked to Italian Renaissance artists, such as Raphael and Carpaccio, but was also influenced by Byzantine (Eastern Christian) art, particularly icon painting, and by Indian and Persian miniatures.

Moreau has depicted Saint George as a slender youth rather than a mature man, his long flowing hair further enhancing his already androgynous appearance. Although a warrior, his Saint George is also a figure of spiritual purity who, in killing the dragon to rescue a princess, is perhaps also vanquishing crude animal appetites.

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