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Jacopo Tintoretto, Saint George and the Dragon

Key facts
Full title Saint George and the Dragon
Artist Jacopo Tintoretto
Artist dates about 1518 - 1594
Date made about 1555
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 158.3 × 100.5 cm
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG16
Location Room 29
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint George and the Dragon
Jacopo Tintoretto

Saint George plunges his lance into the jaws of the dragon which, according to legend, inhabited the lake outside the city of Lydda in the Holy Land. He has arrived just in time to save the princess, who had been presented as a sacrifice to the creature. The dead body of one of the dragon’s earlier victims lies on the ground. God the Father appears in the heavens in answer to George’s prayers and intervenes to help him defeat the dragon.

Tintoretto has devised a daring, dramatically heaving composition, with the horizon set two thirds up the picture and the figures positioned above one another receding obliquely into the distance. The headlong movement of the princess and Saint George is continued in the swirling draperies, rushing waters and thunderous clouds pierced by blinding beams of light in the heavens.

Although the painting was intended as an altarpiece it may always have been kept in a private domestic setting, probably a private chapel.

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